The Rathbone Family Group, which owns Yering Station and Mount Langi Ghiran wineries in Victoria, Australia, has agreed to acquire Parker Estates, a high-profile producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in South Australia's Coonawarra area. The acquisition is to be completed in May, and the sale price was not disclosed.
John Parker founded the estate in 1985, making the first vintage in 1988 and running the company until his death in May 2002. The winery's assets were held by the Parker family and John Fairfax Holdings Inc., which also owns a number of large publishing enterprises in Australia.
Today, Parker winery makes up to 5,000 cases per year. Its flagship wine is the Terra Rossa First Growth, named after the red soils that characterize the best sites in Coonawarra. The wine, which currently sells for $80, has been lavishly praised in Australia and elsewhere, although recent Wine Spectator ratings generally fall between very good to outstanding. Parker also makes varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from grapes not used in the First Growth blend.
Although Parker Estates has no winery facility, it has a storage building for barrels and finished wines, plus a tasting room open to the public. The wines are made at Balnaves, a nearby winery whose owners also manage Parker's vineyards. Rathbone Family Group commercial director Gordon Gebbie said that arrangement will continue.
General manager Andrew Pirie, who founded Pipers Brook Vineyard in Tasmania, will be leaving the winery. He has been the "face of the winery since Mr. Parker's passing," said Gebbie, "but he is happy to be returning his full attention to Tasmania."
Gebbie said that Parker complements the family's existing wine portfolio. Yering Station's flagship wines are Chardonnay and sparkling wine. Mount Langi, acquired in 2002, is known for its crisp Shiraz. "We continue to look for wineries that have earned a strong profile, both domestically and internationally, for which we think there is an upside," Gebbie added. "As good as it was, we thought Mount Langi Ghiran could make better wines. We think the same of Parker."
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