A long established, second-tier New Zealand winery, Morton Estate, has gone into foreign hands.
Japanese-owned Lion New Zealand has purchased the Morton Estate wine brand and the Stone Creek vineyard, adjacent to Lion’s Wither Hills property in Marlborough.
Bay of Plenty-based Morton Estate was originally established in 1978 and later floated on the New Zealand Stock Exchange by its Australian owners.
It was later bought by NBR Rich Lister John Coney and is known for its quality barrel-aged reds, Chardonnays and Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines.
The latter are bottle-fermented and use the same techniques as French Champagne.
Mr Coney, who also owns The Wine Portfolio, sees the sale as an opportunity for his team to focus on expanding their other brands including Southern Dawn, Nikau Point, Mill Road and Penny Lane.
For Lion’s part, the purchase will complement its existing “accessible premium” brands, such as Wither Hills and Huntaway.
Lion’s New Zealand managing director Rory Glass says the deal will give more flexibility to its customers and consumers by way of range and price.
“We expect to grow Morton Estate beyond its existing channels in order to fully unlock the potential of the brand,” he says.
The handover between the two companies begins this week and will be complete by early June when Morton Estate brands will be available through the Lion’s sales and distribution channel.
The purchase of Stone Creek vineyard is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval as it involves land.
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