Founder of NZ’s Zephyr buys Seresin’s Marlborough wineryBy Lauren Eads
Two New Zealand winemakers have bought Seresin’s Marlborough winery, founded by cinematographer Michael Seresin, with plans to turn it into a collaborative winemaking facility called The Coterie.
Ben Glover, the founder of Glover Family Vineyards (GFV) – which includes the Zephyr brand – together with his business partner Rhyan Wardman – who began his winemaking career as the first assistant winemaker at Seresin Estate in the 90s – will take over the estate from 1 May.
The sale of the winery also includes three hectares of organic vineyard plantings, with the pair planning to create a winemaking hub for winemakers “championing small-batch, single-site wines”.
COLLABORATE AND INNOVATE
The new project will be called The Coterie (meaning The Collection), and will allow New Zealand to celebrate its “quirky diversity” and showcase the “depth and breadth” of what Marlborough has to offer.
“We’re passionate about what we have in our regions and getting this into the premium imbiber’s wine glass,” said Glover, who is a former winemaker at Accolade, announcing the purchase today. “We hope our winery will be a hub for like-minded producers to collaborate – we see it as a place to innovate, share ideas and push the style boundaries.”
The Coterie will also become the new winemaking headquarters for the Glover Family Vineyards (GFV) operation – its flagship brand being Zephyr, which includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, championing New Zealand’s aromatic varieties, alongside a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
“The Zephyr brand has always been about making wines which reflect our family farm, small parcels from its individual sites,” said Glover, announcing the sale today.
“This year we are also transitioning our vineyard operations to organic farming practices, so it was important that we had a dedicated organic winery where we can make our wines. This will allow us to be hands on, with full control over the production process, from vine to bottle.”
SERESIN TO DOWNSIZE AND RELOCATE
For Seresin, the sale was part of a decision by owner Michael Seresin to downsize, according to Glover, and refocus on producing super-premium, single vineyard wines. The changes will see the winery re-locate its operation to its 100-hectare site at Barracks Road, Marlborough.
In a statement released to the drinks business, Seresin said: “These changes will bring a renewed vigour to the portfolio of Seresin wines and their very special Raupo Creek vineyard site in the Southern Valleys. In the coming months, they will be rehoming their operation to their 100-hectare site at Barracks Road and, from the 2018 vintage, the Seresin premium product range will be single vineyard wines.
“From 1st May, the eight hectare Seresin winery site off Bedford Road will move into the ownership of Coterie du Vin Ltd, a new business jointly owned by Rhyan Wardman and Ben Glover of Marlborough. Seresin is an investor in this new venture and will be a cornerstone client of the operation. Seresin wines will continue to be made in the winery, under Seresin’s supervision, just as they always have.
“The Coterie will be focussing on premium small batch and single site production and they very much have a motivation for this facility to be 100% organic production. Seresin see this new venture as a wonderful asset for Marlborough premium and organic producers.”
Wardman, who was formerly a winemaker at Seresin, added: “Michael Seresin, and the Seresin brand, has always pushed the boundaries and remained committed to producing premium, small-batch, organic wines. The winery provides the perfect site to continue that vision, allowing us to create a facility that promotes single-site identification, while stimulating intellectual expression. We want to create a space that will allow producers to make wine that displays the real fabric of Marlborough.”
Looking ahead, The Coterie facility will also provide a space for hosting customers and visitors, as well as a meeting space and workshop for Marlborough wine producers to develop ideas and collaborate.
“While I recognise that Marlborough needs large-scale winemaking facilities to keep up with consumer demand for our Sauvignon Blanc, both Rhyan and I intrinsically believe that it is vital to showcase the pure diversity of our wine region for long-term sustainability,” added Glover. “Connecting passionate people, their sense of place, and single-site winegrowing is the key to showing this.”
The purchase follows a spate of high profile sales within New Zealand’s wine industry, the most recent being the sale of Larry McKenna’s The Escarpment winery to Australian producer Torbreck.
Late last year the founder of Craggy Range, Steve Smith MW, bought Canterbury’s Pyramid Valley Wines and Central Otago’s Lowburn Ferry in a deal worth at least NZ$8m (£4.2M), not including the purchase of Lowburn, taking both brands under the newly founded Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (ANZFWE) umbrella.
Glover and Wardman will take possession of the winery from 1 May, and will be taking on clients for the 2019 vintage.
Financial details of the investment have not been disclosed.