NZ’s Mt. Difficulty sold to Foley Family Wines for $52m

New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved the sale of Central Otago wine estate Mt. Difficulty to US-based Foley Family Wines for NZ$52 million (£27m).

Mt. Difficulty has been sold to the US-based Foley Family Wines for NZ$52 million.

A statement from the OIO last week said the purchase included about 70ha of freehold land and about 110ha of leasehold land at the Bannockburn vineyard.

Mt. Difficulty is a medium-sized vineyard known for its Mt. Difficulty and Roaring Meg labels, and particularly its Pinot Noir and Riesling, produced by winemaker Matt Dicey.

Foley Family Wines is majority owned by United States-based Bill Foley, who also owns other New Zealand vineyards including Martinborough Vineyard, Te Kairanga Vineyard and Grove Mill Winery.

“Foley Family Wines plans to leverage its networks to increase exports of Mt Difficulty wines by cross-marketing with its existing labels,” the OIO statement added.

“It will continue Mt Difficulty’s plans to expand the Mt Difficulty vineyard restaurant and cellar door, develop a restaurant and a barrel facility at Te Kairanga Vineyard in Martinborough, and upgrade its Grove Mill Winery to increase production capacity.

“The investment will result in nine new jobs, mostly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough.”

As reported by Otago Daily Times, the original $55 million sale price for Mt. Difficulty was reduced to $52 million in exchange for Foley investing up to $3 million to expand Mt. Difficulty’s cellar door operation and restaurant.

The sale of Mt. Difficulty is the latest in a line of high-profile purchases of New Zealand vineyards by overseas investors, but at $52m its value dwarfs prior purchases.

In 2017, Pyramid Valley in North Canterbury was bought by Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (ANZFWE), co-founded by Steve Smith MW and Brian Sheth – an investor and wildlife conservationist from Austin, Texas – for $8m. ANZFWE has also purchased Lowburn Ferry Wines in Central Otago for $2.1m, with both sales approved by New Zealand Government’s Overseas Investment Office.

Last week it was confirmed that Urlar Farms in Wairarapa had been purchased by the Japanese sake brewer Nishi for NZ$8.75 million.

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