Doug Rathbone has announced he is putting the Rathbone Wine Group up for sale.
The group – which includes some of Australia’s most iconic wineries – was created shortly after Rathbone, chief executive of insecticide company Nufarm, first purchased the Victoria winery Yering Station in 1996.
Victoria’s Mount Langi Ghiran was bought in 2002, Parker Coonawarra Estate in 2005, and Xanadu in Margaret River in 2005.
Rathbone also owns a Port Melbourne bottling plant called 14 Degrees, and a wine distribution company, Four Seasons Fine Wines.
Despite growing his wine group into a AU$110m business over 16 years, Rathbone announced a AU$2m loss in 2011 with a revenue of AU$39m, compared to the AU$50.7m profit recorded in 2010.
Rathbone has now put the whole of his wine enterprise up for grabs, with the bottling plant on the market since last October. He will also be selling off his property development in Port Melbourne and a marina project in Queenscliff.
A combination of several factors has most likely contributed to Rathbone’s loss in profits, including Australia’s grape glut, and the strengthened Australian dollar. It is also understood the insecticide business suffered from falling revenues.
It is unclear whether Rathbone’s son Darren, CEO and contributing winemaker for all four estates, will continue to hold his title in the company once it is sold off.
All of Rathbone Wine Group’s brands are distributed in the UK by Enotria.
A spokesman for Rathbone said, ‘The only statement we can give is that it is business as normal for RWG in our UK side of the business and that we have now been working with our agent Enotria World Wine for seven years and have enjoyed continued growth within their portfolio and business over this time.’
Written by Christina Pickard