Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann owner puts 7,258ha of vineyards and land on the market

Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann owner puts 7,258ha of vineyards and land on the market

Casella Family Brands managing director John Casella (Photo by Vince Bucello).

The family behind popular wine brands like Yellow Tail and Peter Lehmann Wines has decided to sell more than 7,000 hectares of vineyard holdings and associated land in South Australia and New South Wales.

Casella Family Brands (CFB) today announced it had engaged Colliers’ Tim Altschwager and Nick Dean to launch an expression of interest (EOI) campaign for the land, which includes 35 properties across the two states.

For context, the National Vineyard Scan 2019 found the total area of winegrape vineyards in Australia was 146,244ha, meaning the proposed sale represents approximately one 25th of the nation’s entire stock.

The proposed sale includes a selection of vineyards in renowned wine regions including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Langhorne, Currency Creek, Limestone Coast and the Riverina.

Founded in 1969 and based in Yenda, NSW, CFB is Australia’s largest family-owned wine company with a stable of brands including Yellow Tail, Casella Family Wines, Peter Lehmann Wines, Brand’s Laira of Coonawarra, Morris of Rutherglen, Baileys of Glenrowan and The Magic Box Wine Collection.

According to a statement issued by the Casella family, a sale would ensure the vintners retain the wine grapes from these vineyards to ensure ongoing supply for its established brands.

“The company will continue to source from grape-growers across NSW and South Australia, and the intended sale will not impact these longstanding relationships or contractual agreements in place,” the Casella family said.

Included in the sale is 5,650ha of planted vineyards, 1,608ha of supporting land/property, extensive plant and equipment, water entitlements, and long-term grape supply agreements with Casella.

Casella has not provided data of its yield, but following the average 11.8 tonnes per hectare as reported by the industry in 2019, the family's productive land for sale would translate to approximately more than 66,000 tonnes of annual winegrape crush.

John Casella said the EOI followed an extensive review of operations, noting the decision aligns with a strategic objective to focus resources on “setting the business up for long-term success”. Any sale proceeds will be reinvested in the company’s wineries and wine brands.

A machine harvesting grapes at a Casella family-owned vineyard

“The company is in a sound financial position, having recently experienced global record sales for [yellow tail] during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said managing director John Casella, who took over Casella Family Brands in 1994 from his parents Filippo and Maria Casella.

“While demand has stabilised, we are forecasting future growth due to ongoing investment in our brands supported by a strategic innovation pipeline.

“The intended strategic partnership will allow us to focus on strengthening our brands globally, and therefore deliver positive outcomes for the Australian wine industry.”

The announcement comes just over three months after Casella Family Brands picked up Coca-Cola’s beer and cider brands for an undisclosed sum.

Australian Beer Co. (ABCo) was previously run as a joint venture by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia and CFB, and owns brands such as Pressman’s Original Australian Cider and Yenda Pale Ale.

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