One of the founding five wineries in Western Australia's Margaret River region is set to change hands for the first time in decades after Endeavour Group (ASX: EDV) subsidiary Paragon Wine Estates struck a deal to buy Cape Mentelle Winery from Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) for an undisclosed sum.
Owned by Bernard Arnault, currently the world's richest man, LVMH's Veuve Clicquot business took a controlling interest in Cape Mentelle Vineyards in 1990.
This is the second time within 2.5 years that Arnault's empire appears to be cashing in on Australian assets, after LVMH sold RM Williams in October 2020 to Tattarang, the investment arm of Dr Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest and his wife Nicola.
Founded in 1970 by industry pioneer David Hohnen with his brothers Mark and Giles with just 16 hectares of vines planted at the time, the Cape Mentelle operation is now 150 hectares strong and spread across four vineyards.
It is a winemaking business that will soon be back in Australian hands through the deal announced today, representing Paragon Wine Estates' first foray into WA since it was established in 2019 with the purchase of McLaren Vale’s Chapel Hill winery.
Since then Paragon has built a heavy weighting towards South Australian wineries with Shingleback (McLaren Vale), Krondorf (Barossa Valley) and Riddoch (Coonawarra) in the figurative cellar, alongside Oakridge Wines from Victoria's Yarra Valley, Josef Chromy in Tasmania's Tamar Valley, and Isabel Estate in New Zealand's Marlborough wine region.
As the owner of bottle shop chains such as BWS and Dan Murphy's, Endeavour Group is Australia's leading retail drinks and hospitality business, and was demerged from Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW) in mid-2021. The retailer still retains a 9.1 per cent stake in EDV after selling $636 million worth of shares in late 2022 to help fund the purchase of PETstock.
Endeavour Group CEO and managing director Steve Donohue says the acquisition of Cape Mentelle is an important next step in enhancing Paragon Wine Estate’s fine wine portfolio, giving the business a premium presence in Western Australia.
"Cape Mentelle founder David Hohnen once said ‘wine is a journey’. I’m excited for Cape Mentelle to join our Endeavour Group journey and help us create a more sociable future, together," Donahue says.
"Anyone who has tried a Cape Mentelle Cabernet or Chardonnay knows just how special this winery is. I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Cape Mentelle to the Endeavour Group and Paragon Wine Estates families and to see it continue to grow on a global scale, while giving more people across Australia access to its fantastic range of wines."
Mentelle is a member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and was the first winery in Western Australia to obtain the Entwine accreditation for its sustainability program.
Completion of the transaction will take place in due course, pending licensing approval. It will be business as usual for Cape Mentelle with key personnel to remain with the winery, including estate director Penny Dickeson, viticulturist Dave Moulton and recently appointed senior winemaker Eloise Jarvis.
Endeavour Group has long-standing relationships with wine producers and grape growers across the country, and is one of the largest employers in the Barossa region, where Dorrien Estate winery and bottling and packaging arm Vinpac employ more than 200 people full-time, working directly with 50 grape growers in the region.
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