Calabria family buying McWilliam’s Riverina

The Calabria Family (L-R) Frank, Andrew, Lena, Bill, Elizabeth and Michael. (Photo: Calabria Family Wines)

McWilliam’s Wines will finally be sold, in two parts.

A meeting of creditors with the administrator, KPMG, resolved last Thursday to sell to the preferred option of two on the table.

It’s a relief that the drawn-out McWilliam’s Wines debacle has now been resolved. Yes, it is the end of an era, but nothing is forever, and now everyone can move on.

Fellow Griffith-based wine company Calabria Family Wines will buy the McWilliam’s brands, intellectual property, and stock holdings as well as the Hanwood vineyard, winery and cellar door. But the jewel in the crown, Mount Pleasant Wines, one of the Hunter Valley’s great and most historic properties, formerly home to the legendary Maurice O’Shea will be sold to a Sydney-based property development group with interests in the Hunter region, owned by the Medich family. The Mediches have not been involved in wine or vineyards before.

A second, eleventh-hour bid by fellow Riverina-based family wine company De Bortoli was the second option. This bid was for the entire McWilliam’s/Mount Pleasant businesses.

Before De Bortoli presented its bid, Calabria had already publicly announced that it had bought the Riverina operations, in an April 6th press statement.

What of the future of these two halves of the six-generation strong McWilliam family?

It is cheering news that the highly-respected Calabria family (formerly Westend Wines) will own the lion’s share of the assets. Calabria is growing, it makes good wine, it’s family-owned and it is, like McWilliam’s, a Riverina-based entity. Patriarch Bill Calabria’s children are now running the firm and its future seems assured.

The question mark, if there is one, hovers over the Hunter operation. Will the Medich group allow winemaker Adrian Sparks and the Mount Pleasant team the freedom to continue to do what they do so well? Time will tell.

It’s a relief that the drawn-out McWilliam’s Wines debacle has now been resolved. Yes, it is the end of an era, but nothing is forever, and now everyone can move on. It’s not the end of this important Australian wine dynasty, however, as several members of the family continue to work in wine.

McWilliam’s Wines was established in 1877. Fifth-generation family member Greg McWilliam, quoted in the Calabria press statement, said:

“Local members of the McWilliam family are pleased that the Hanwood winery and the McWilliam’s Wines business will continue under the control of the Calabria family and that their passion for the local region, brands and history of the company will continue under their family ownership. We have had a close and enduring relationship over many years and look forward to working with the Calabria family in the future.”

Calabria Wines is now being run by third-generation family members. Michael Calabria is general manager, and sales and marketing manager is Andrew Calabria.


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