Chinese investors are back seeking trophy vineyard properties in the NSW Hunter Valley, but are being out-muscled by quicker-acting local buyers.
This is the view of veteran Hunter Valley real estate agent Alan Jurd, who has sold the famous wine region’s last two trophy vineyard estates – Loggerheads and Hungerford Hill – to Australian buyers.
“The Chinese are back and looking. But they are a bit slow compared with the locals. They take too long to make up their minds,” said Mr. Jurd, who heads up Jurd’s Real Estate.
Loggerheads, the 39-hectare Pokolbin estate owned by former Macquarie director Robin Crawford and his wife Judy, was snapped up for $6 million by an Australian public company, whose identity Mr. Jurd could not disclose. The Kirby family’s Hungerford Hill winery and vineyard was snapped up by Sydney-based pub owner and developer Iris Capital for more than $6 million.
Mr. Jurd said wealthy Sydneysiders, who had done well out of the housing boom, were competing strongly for vineyards and other rural property in the Hunter Valley, which is a two-hour drive north of the NSW capital.
That’s not to say locals have had the market to themselves. In December the well-known Wandin Valley Winery was acquired by Lap Tung Tsoi, a director of Chinese animation and toy business Alpha Group.
The latest trophy Pokolbin vineyards to hit the market are the 40.5-hectare family-owned Marsh Estate and the 14.6-hectare Iron Gate Estate being offloaded by winemaker Roger Lilliott.
Market expectations are around $3 million for the Marsh Estate, which was established in 1971 as one of the original wine estates in Pokolbin. It includes more than 20 hectares planted with red and white variety vines, a 200-tonne winery and a country homestead and adjacent cellar door all set against the backdrop of the Brokenback Range.
Iron Gate Estate includes a Spanish Hacienda-style 200-tonne winery and residence, cellar door and 10 hectares of vineyards. Mr. Lilliott acquired the property as an undeveloped land parcel 21 year ago, establishing its reputation as a producer of aged semillon and an unusual sweet shiraz wines. Expectations are around $7 million.
Also up for sale in the Hunter Valley is the 49-hectare Adina Vineyard and Olive Grove owned by Peter O’Meara, chairman of the Australian Olive Association, who is retiring and selling the property and the business.
The Adina estate features a nine-hectare vineyard, modern cellar door, olive processing facility and three luxury accommodation lodges. The vineyard produces shiraz, cabernet, sangiovese, semillon, pinot gris and chardonnay varieties.
“The property is considered by many to be the home of the olive industry in the Hunter Valley, not just because of the quality of fruit that is produced from the olive grove, but because it has both the largest and most modern processing plant in the lower Hunter Valley,” said selling agent Cain Beckett of Jurd’s Real Estate.
CORRECTION: An early version of the article said market expectations are around $13 million for the Marsh Estate. The correct figure is $3 million.
SOURCE: The Australian Financial Review
POSTED: January 22, 2017
AUTHOR: Larry Schlesinger