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Fox Creek Wines sale marks end of an era for founding owners

Wine

Well-known McLaren Vale winery Fox Creek has been sold to three prominent wine industry figures.

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Long-time mates and industry colleagues, Ben Gibson, Jock Harvey and Dim Georgiadis will take over the business, which includes a 1200-tonne winery, 20ha of vineyards and a historic cellar door on a 46ha property between the townships of McLaren Vale and Willunga.

The purchase brings an end to 36 years of ownership by Helen and Dr Jim Watts, who started the Fox Creek Wines business in 1984.

Dr Watts, a surgeon turned winemaker, died in 2017.

However, the family is still a major player in the McLaren Vale region with their daughter Sarah Marquis the owner, CEO and chief winemaker at progressive winery Mollydooker, where her children Luke and Holly also work.

Gibson has held a range of wine industry roles over the past 20 years and will assume the role of  CEO at Fox Creek. His previous roles include various director positions at Pernod Ricard and more recently as CEO of Clare Valley winery, Kirrihill Wines.

Harvey is a McLaren Vale wine industry stalwart and is best known as the proprietor of Chalk Hill Viticulture.

Georgiadis has a background in law and is a founder and director of business development for the FABAL group of companies that specialise in large scale agri-business and vineyard management.

The three mates said they shared a love of high-quality Shiraz, Grenache and alternative varietals and would pool their collective experience to embark on the next journey for Fox Creek Wines.

Gibson said they quickly realised that Fox Creek’s rich soils, 1200-tonne winery, quality vineyards and cellar door all contained on the one Malpas Road property made it a hidden gem.

“In spite of the hardships the wine industry has faced in the current climate and pandemic, Jock, Dim and I immediately saw the value in investing in such an iconic wine brand in McLaren Vale,” he said.

“With Fox Creek located so close to our hometown of Willunga, Jock and I could not be happier to be reunited.

“In partnership with our great friend Dim, we embark on what will be an exciting new chapter for Fox Creek Wines.”

Fox Creek has won numerous domestic and international wine awards, along with being recognised by James Halliday as a 5-Star rated winery.

Its flagship wine, the Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz is recognised in the “outstanding” category of the coveted Langton’s wine classification system.

Gibson said although it was “business as usual” at Fox Creek Wines, there were plans to undertake new vineyard plantings and invest in the cellar door including the development of new precinct experiences.

“Our immediate focus will be welcoming the employees of Fox Creek, planning the highly anticipated 2021 Vintage, meeting with our grape growers, contract processing partners, customers and loyal ‘Circle’ wine club members,” he said.

“We are indebted greatly to the Watts family for the legacy that they have created and look forward to writing the next exciting chapter for Fox Creek Wines.”

Co-founder and current owner Helen Watts said it was time to sell up to ensure the Fox Creek brand remained strong going forward.

“As I recently celebrated my 86th birthday I decided it was time to find the right people to take Fox Creek onward and upward into the future,” she said.

“I am confident we have done this.”

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