Lion Nathan has acquired premium New Zealand winery Wither Hills for NZ$52m (€24.8m).
The Australian brewer will add Wither Hills – a much-awarded Marlborough producer of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – to its portfolio of premium Australian wineries Banksia and Petaluma.
The company has a stated aim of building a world-class premium wine operation from the ground up – and CEO Gordon Cairns said any further growth in New Zealand would be through Wither Hills.
‘We are delighted to have been able to purchase a premium wine business of the quality and size of Wither Hills. [This is] consistent with our strategy of building an Australasian premium wine business,’ he said.
He added Wither Hills ‘internationally acclaimed’ Sauvignon Blanc sat very well within Lion’s existing portfolio, which up to now was lacking that varietal.
Wither Hills’ owners and winemakers, father and son team John and Brent Marris will remain with the winery.
Stressing that it was business as usual and the company status quo would remain the same, Brent Marris said, ‘One chapter has finished and another chapter has started. I will continue to go to work, to grow the vines, to make the wines and work with Dad. [Lion Nathan is] buying into our dream and I can continue to work towards fulfilling that dream, to help to grow an international brand.’
Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies2 September 2002