McWilliam’s vineyards sold to Chinese buyer in lease back arrangement

McWilliam's vineyards sold to Chinese buyer in lease back arrangement

The McWilliam family has sold three vineyards – across NSW and SA – to Hong Kong-listed group CK Life Sciences for $15.7 million in a sale and lease back arrangement.

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate winery will remain the home with its family history under leasehold. The McWilliam’s family wine tradition started in 1877 when founder Samuel planted the first vines.

The other vineyards sold were The Station and Kirkgate in South Australia, The Land reports.

Over 135 years, McWilliam’s has championed New South Wales wines and today sources fruit from a variety of regions beyond the Riverina, including Hilltops, Tumbarumba, and Orange. Last year McWilliam’s Wines Group returned to 100% family ownership after buying the remaining shares owned by E&J Gallo.

CK Life Sciences has agriculture-related businesses in Mainland China and Australia.

In Australia, CK Life Sciences is the largest supplier of turf management products and services as well as the second largest supplier in the home garden products industry.

The group is the second largest vineyard owner in Australasia and also the largest producer of salt for the domestic market in Australia.

CK Life Sciences has a 72% interest in Belvino Investments Trust, formerly a listed Australian unit trust until delisting in 2011.

There are 13 vineyards in Belvino’s portfolio, along with irrigation water entitlements. Together, these cover around 4,800 hectares of land in Australasia.

Its other vineyards include Australia’s Qualco West Vineyard and three vineyards in Margaret River, as well as New Zealand’s Northbank Millennium Vineyard and Mud House Vineyards.

Spanning some 510 hectares of land, the Qualco West Vineyard is located in the Riverland wine region in South Australia. The Riverland wine region is Australia’s largest wine grape producing region.

The three vineyards in Margaret River comprise the Old Land Vineyard, the Rowe Road Vineyard and the Lionels Vineyard. Located in a premium wine-growing region three hours south of Perth in Western Australia, these three vineyards cover a total area of approximately 300 hectares.

The Northbank Millennium Vineyard has a total land area of about 175 hectares and a planted area of about 130 hectares. It is located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island in the Marlborough area, which represents the country’s largest wine-growing region.

The Mud House Vineyards comprise the Woolshed Vineyard in Marlborough; the Mound Vineyard, the Home Vineyard, and the Deans Vineyard in Waipara; as well as the Claim Vineyard in Otago. These vineyards have a total land area of about 600 hectares, and a planted area of about 380 hectares. They are situated in the key wine-growing regions in the South Island of New Zealand and are famous for producing premium wine.

A majority of the vineyards in CK Life Sciences’ portfolios are committed to long-term leases with major Australasian wine companies.

McWilliam has been selling holdings with its 2013 sale of the Hunter Valley investment, the $1.5 million, 29 hectare Middle Creek vineyard negotiated by Jurd’s Real Estate, Cessnock.

Colliers International suggest the lower Australian dollar and low interest rates would encourage more agribusiness to follow the McWilliams family into selling their property assets and leasing them back.

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