Pioneer Matua winery to close as Treasury consolidates operations

Production at the west Auckland site will move to Marlborough. 

The closing of west Auckland’s Matua Valley winery ends an era that includes the first production of New Zealand’s most famous variety.

Bill and Ross Spence planted the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes in 1969 and last year the company celebrated the 40th vintage.

In his history of the wine industry, Chancers and Visionaries, Keith Stewart says the first 1974 Sauvignon Blanc is considered “memorable” by those who tried it “and it certainly made the point that it could be grown successfully, at least in northwest Auckland where Matua’s vineyards were located.”

This week, the owner of the Matua brand, Treasury Wine Estates, announced the closure of two Australasian wineries to focus production on existing operations.

The Matua winery, packing and cellar door site at Waimauku will close in March, with production moving to its expanded Marlborough operation.

Production at the Great Western Winery, which makes the Seppelt sparkling wine brand in western Victoria, will also move to other sites in Australia.

TWE owns the Wolf Blass, Penfolds and Wynns wineries in South Australia and Lindemans in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.

In Marlborough, where Matua also makes the Secret Stone, Angle Cove and Squealing Pig labels, TWE has expanded plant capacity to 25,000 tonnes and installed 48 150,000 litre tanks.

“These supply chain changes will not impact any of TWE’s brands or existing supply contract arrangements with grape growers, and the company remains committed to supporting and investing behind key brands such as Seppelt and Matua”, Treasury says in a statement.

TWE has been removing costs and complexity from its operations around the globe. It has also made a major billion-dollar takeover deal in the US, adding Diageo’s US brands to its portfolio at a cost of $US710 million

It has also sold the Asti winery and the Souverain brand assets in California’s Sonoma County to E&J Gallo Winery.

In August, TWE posted a full-year net profit of $A77.6 million after tax, up $A178.5 million on its 2014 result, which produced a huge loss of $A100 million after writing off unsold wine in the US.

Job losses at Waimauku are estimated at 50. The Parnell sales office in Auckland is unaffected.

Use MyNBR Tags to track people and companies - and receive key-word email alerts. Find out how here.