New future for Winemaking Tasmania

18 July, 2019 by Andy Young

A company jointly owned by Tasmanian businessman Rod Roberts and the Fogarty Wine Group (FWG) has acquired 100 per cent of the business and assets of Winemaking Tasmania and will rename it Tasmanian Vintners.

Roberts and FWG Chairman Peter Fogarty said the future of one of Tasmania’s biggest wine processors was now secured and by renaming it to Tasmanian Vintners they were signalling a new start and a new direction for the operation.

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“With a strong group of contract customers and fruit growers and the shareholders’ own increasing production volumes, together with access to capital, we anticipate Tasmanian Vintners will be one of Tasmania’s fastest growing, high quality wine businesses,” they said.

The WT operation supplies winemaking, bottling and production services and accounts for a significant percentage of Tasmania’s total finished wine production by volume, and manages production for 30 boutique wine brands across the State. Roberts and Fogarty said that this acquisition also secures jobs in this growing industry.

“We’re committed to retaining all WT’s contract winemaking customers, taking fruit from its existing grower base and working closely with the Tasmanian producers to provide high quality processing and bottling capability in Tasmania,” they said.

“Suppliers and customers can have confidence that the business is now well funded and committed to being one of Tasmania’s most successful premium and luxury wine producers.

“We see enormous potential for the Tasmanian wine industry. It has rapidly strengthened its reputation for outstanding pinot noir, chardonnay, sparkling wines and other varietals,” Roberts and Fogarty said.

Winemaking Tasmania went into voluntary administration on 22 May 2019 due to significant cash flow problems and Pitcher Partners were appointed as administrators.

The employment of former CEO, Jonathan Lord, has been terminated by the administrators and he will not have any further role in the operation of the business.

Tasmanian Vintners Pty Ltd is 50–50 owned by a Rod Roberts’ family company and FWG.

Roberts stood down as Managing Director and Chairman of Tasmanian agribusiness Webster Limited five years ago after overseeing substantial growth. He has been involved in the food industry over several decades, including the management of primary processing and value-add factories. He is also a former investment banker.

Fogarty said his group, which owns brands including Lake’s Folly, Deep Woods and Evans & Tate, was investing heavily in Tasmania having recently acquired Lowestoft vineyard at Berriedale and was establishing a new vineyard site in Gilling Brook Road, Forcett, with plans under way to develop vineyards in excess of 200 hectares over the next three years.