KiwiSaver capital boosts Awatere River Wine Company

By Wright Communications

A significant capital investment in the Awatere River Wine Company from game-changing KiwiSaver fund Booster heralds a new era for the Marlborough producer.

In announcing the investment, which includes the acquisition of Nelson's Waimea Family Estate Wines, Awatere River Wine Company founder and winemaker Louis Vavasour says the deal is a tremendous vote of confidence in the buoyant New Zealand wine industry.

"Booster has bought into my business plan and desire to push the boundaries, based on an alignment of values with its shareholders," he says. "Its investment will help us achieve our goals of focussing on quality while continuing the established momentum of Awatere River and Waimea Estates in New Zealand and export markets."

Under the terms of the investment, the Vavasour family retains principle ownership of Awatere River Wine Company with the Booster Tahi Limited Partnership (Booster's investment vehicle for its KiwiSaver funds) taking a significant minority stake. The Booster Tahi Limited Partnership will own 100% of Waimea Estates with Louis Vavasour the CEO of the overarching venture.

The Booster Tahi Limited Partnership was established to help Kiwis grow their businesses and manage their wealth. First and foremost Booster focuses on sustainable, delivered income.

Vavasour says the venture, Booster's first foray into viticulture, came about as he was seeking a capital injection and came into contact with Booster, which was looking for long-term investment opportunities with straight-talking, visionary younger people at the helm.

"This is an exciting milestone for all the assets and the people involved and I look forward to working with an expanded team of dynamic people who are passionate about what they do, to grow all aspects of the business."

Vavasour says the Bolitho family, who founded Waimea Estates in 1993, has driven a well-established, successful operation that has a number of synergies with Awatere River Wine Company.

"Waimea Estates produces a range of varietals that are complementary to Awatere River Wine Company and similar to our own approach, has a strong ethos around family and integrity. We want to build on the Bolitho family's success and ensure continuity at Waimea Estates."

Louis Vavasour's own family history in the Awatere Valley dates back to 1887 when his ancestors settled there. His pioneering parents planted the first grapes in the valley in 1987 and released their first vintage in 1989. Louis, considered a next-generation wine industry leader, founded the Awatere Valley Wine Company in 2007, producing sustainable, vegan, and consistently award-winning wines.

"I was brought up in the Awatere Valley making, growing and tasting wine - it's in my blood. My winemaking philosophy is based on the four pillars of intuition, minimal intervention, sustainability and excellence."

The newly announced partnership enables ARWC to meet a broader spread of evolving consumer preferences. Collectively, it can offer over 10 varietals across six premium brands at different price points from two NZ regions, that both deliver to, and are distinct from, typical Marlborough wines.

Awatere River Wine Company currently markets wines under the Awatere River, Anna's Way (named after Louis' late mother) and Savee Sea brands while Waimea Estates has its flagship Waimea Estate label as well as the Spinyback brand.

The sixth premium brand, which typifies Louis' pursuit of quality, will be added in the spring of 2018 when Awatere River Wine Company launches its three luxury Louis Vavasour Reserve wines, the Awatere Valley's first Methode Traditionelle along with a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage.

The Booster investment also includes the purchase of additional vineyards in Marlborough and Nelson which will contribute to future company growth and return for investors.

Awatere River Wine Company's total sales grew by 26% in 2016, compared to the previous calendar year, and so far in 2017 sales are tracking 48% ahead of last year.

Both Awatere River Wine Company and Waimea Estates products are distributed in New Zealand by Federal Merchants and available in leading wine stores, restaurants and liquor outlets.



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