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McLaren Vale gem snapped up by Seppeltsfield wine group


Wine baron Warren Randall is adding another award-winning McLaren Vale winery to his ever-growing portfolio led by the flagship Seppeltsfield Estate in the Barossa and Penny’s Hill Estate in McLaren Vale.

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Hot on the heels of Gemtree Wines taking out one of the state’s Best Of Wine Tourism Awards, The Randall Group has bought the organic winery from industry organic wine leaders Melissa and Mike Brown.

The group’s latest purchase will further grow its footprint in McLaren Vale where the organic Gemtree brand – that won its award for Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices – is already exporting to Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, Denmark, Singapore, New Zealand and Sweden.

Sweden recently placed an order for 300,000 bottles of Gemtree organic Shiraz, so the purchase is now also expected to grow The Randall Group’s international reach in the global organic wine market that has swelled 250 per cent in the past 10 years.

“Gemtree is such an exciting brand to add to our stable of thoroughbred brands, Seppeltsfield and Penny’s Hill,” group executive chairman and proprietor Warren Randall said.

“Organic wine production presents a big opportunity. Organic wine sales are on the march, by 2.5 fold internationally and 15 fold domestically in the last 10 years, while non-organic wine sales declined.”

Randall said there were new market opportunities in organic and biodynamic wines.

“Australia possesses natural climatic attributes that are conducive to the crafting of organic wine in both the vineyard and the winery,” he said.

“Our hot and dry Mediterranean climate in McLaren Vale is entirely suited to world class organic and biodynamic wines and yet we are the 11th in the world, in terms of organic vineyard area with only one per cent of the world’s organic vineyards.

“There is a significant opportunity for Australian wine to penetrate the biggest organic wine markets in the world, like Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States of America and Sweden. Canada, Japan and New Zealand also present future opportunity.”

The Randall Group bought Hiltop organic vineyard in McLaren Vale earlier this year. The 81-hectare vineyard is the largest 100 per cent organic vineyard in a premium region in Australia and will now be managed by master of organic viticulture Melissa Brown.

Mike Brown will oversee Gemtree’s organic wine portfolio at the Boar’s Rock winery in McLaren Vale.

Gemtree was established by the Buttery family – Melissa Brown’s parents – in 1998, and its portfolio of wines include Grenache, Tempranillo, Fiano, Albarino and Shiraz. The business earned full organic certification in 2011.

Its solar-powered cellar door in McLaren Flat has an eco-trail and wetlands, and its sale listing said the major shareholder – Mike Brown as chief winemaker and Melissa Brown as viticulturist were part-owners – had a “change of circumstances”.

Randall has long known the Gemtree team, having employed Mike Brown as a cellar hand at Andrew Garrett Wines back in 1994.

He said the wine industry was not doing enough to attract young wine consumers with millennials buying much less wine “than the Boomers”.

“An organic or biodynamically crafted wine brand with genuine provenance and integrity, like Gemtree, is more likely to appeal than a generic, non-organic wine brand in the supermarkets with no provenance,” Randall said.

“They are smart and savvy consumers and sustainability is also paramount in their purchasing decisions.”

The latest purchase also follows The Randall Group buying Penny’s Hill, sited between McLaren Vale and Willunga, in April last year.

Randall group

Penny’s Hill Estate.

Its 42 hectares of vineyards, and the Penny’s Hill, Black Chook and Thomas Goss brands, produced about 50,000 cases a year at the time.

The cellar door is now temporarily closed “while a significant re-development of the entire Penny’s Hill site, similar to our sister winery in the Barossa, Seppeltsfield in 2014” is completed, according to the group’s website.

“Penny’s Hill will be transformed into a family friendly tourism village which will include chocolate, ice cream, a bakery, coffee as well as wine, gin, craft beer and whisky. The estate will also boast a famous family friendly restaurant.”

Prohibition Liquor Co with its award-winning gins opened its first out-of-town tasting room at Penny’s Hill last year: it too is currently closed.

The Randall Wine Group was established in 1978 and says it is Australia’s largest private “luxury” vineyard holder.

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