Australian conglomerate Southcorp is making moves to sell its stake in Seven Peaks winery in California.

According to Southcorp Europe commercial manager Cath O’Grady, the San Luis Obispo based label no longer fits in with Southcorp’s portfolio. ‘We are investigating the possibility of a sale, and concentrating wholly on our four core premium brands Rosemount, Lindemans, Penfolds and Wynns,’ she said. Southcorp’s boutique wineries like Devil’s Lair will continue to play an important part.

O’Grady would not be drawn on whether the entire business, the label, or just Southcorp’s share in the business were up for sale. ‘Regulations governing the sale of public companies and their assets means I cannot give details,’ she said.

For the same reason, she refused to confirm or deny reports that the Australian giant stands to make between US$10m- US$20m (€10.15-20.3) from a sale.

Seven Peaks, which makes use of California’s Central Coast and Edna Valley appellations, is owned by Southcorp and California’s Niven family. The partnership was formed in 1996 when the Nivens pooled land in the Edna Valley and Paso Robles with Southcorp’s winemaking expertise. Wine production peaked in the late nineties at around 100,000 cases but it has fallen significantly ever since.

Any sale would leave the tie-up with Mondavi last year as Southcorp’s sole showing in California. The first of the super-premium and luxury wines to come from the US$16m (€16.2m) alliance are expected to go on sale next spring. They have been made under the joint direction of Mondavi winemaker Tim Mondavi and Rosemount’s Philip Shaw.

Written by Liz Hughes2 July 2002