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Historic McLaren Vale winery bought by Seppeltsfield

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The historic Ryecroft winery in McLaren Vale has been given a lifeline after being shut down by Treasury Wine Estates.

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The winery and an adjoining vineyard in McLaren Flat have been bought by Barossa-based Seppeltsfield Wines.

The company says it was attracted to the rich history of Ryecroft, which was established in 1888.

The purchase has been a long time coming.

TWE first announced the Ryecroft sale in November 2014, with the company saying the winery had been operating at half its capacity. It had been the production site for TWE’s prominent Rosemount brand, but operations were shifted to other wineries, with the 33 employees either redeployed or made redundant.

Seppeltsfield Wines, which has overseen the rejuvenation of the historic Barossa winery of the same name, said today the purchase was settled last Friday with details to remain confidential.

The winery, which has a production capacity of about 30,000 tonnes, will be put into immediate use by Seppeltsfield, with crushing to begin this week as part of the 2017 vintage.

In a statement, Seppeltsfield said Ryecroft would be used as an ancillary crush, fermentation and storage facility for the company’s broader vineyard holdings in South Australia.

“In addition to the winemaking infrastructure on Ingoldby Rd, McLaren Flat, the Ryecroft sale includes approximately 100 acres of adjoining vineyard and water licences,” the statement said.

“The addition of the Ryecroft plantings takes Seppeltsfield’s collective ownership of South Australian vineyard area to 5700 acres, including the largest (private or corporate) holding ever in both the Barossa and McLaren Vale regions.”

Seppeltsfield owner and executive chairman Warren Randall said the acquisition “super-charges” the company’s premium wine crush and fermentation capacity.

“Attached to the original 1888 A-grade winery is 21,000,000L of storage capacity, so we see this as a very supportive addition to Seppeltsfield’s winemaking asset base,” he said.

Randall, who has significant interests in McLaren Vale, said he saw the purchase as an opportunity for the company to continue acquiring historic SA wineries.

“There’s an untold rich history of Ryecroft – established in 1888 in McLaren Vale by Frederick Wilkinson, 33 original wax-lined concrete fermenters are still in place and can be used for ultra-premium winemaking,” he said.

InDaily wine writer Philip White wrote about Ryecroft and the significance of its closure in 2014, describing it as a kick in the teeth for the region.

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