Craigmore Sustainables has added to its viticulture portfolio with the purchase of a development site in Marlborough.

The 418-hectare property, which will have nearly 200-hectares of grapes when fully developed, is located on the north bank in the Wairau Valley.

It is the first viticulture venture in the South Island for Craigmore, a leading food and fibre investment company with existing vineyard holdings in Gisborne and Central Hawke’s Bay.

Known as Cat Creek, the vineyard will be planted in Sauvignon Blanc grapes, a variety synonymous with the Marlborough region and New Zealand’s leading export variety.

Craigmore’s General Manager Horticulture Con Williams says the move to Marlborough provides diversification for the business and an initial footprint into the region that can be expanded in coming years.

“Marlborough is globally recognised as having regional attributes well-suited for viticulture and the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc story continues to provide strong long-term fundamentals that make further expansion attractive.”

Craigmore has partnered with Babich Wines, one of the oldest family-owned wineries in New Zealand with a history of producing premium wines that spans over 100 years and three generations.

The Babich Marlborough team will be responsible for the management and development of the vineyard, with the grapes produced by the vineyard helping Babich Wines meet the growing demand for its portfolio of premium New Zealand wines across domestic and international markets.

Babich Wines Chief Executive David Babich says they are really excited about this partnership with Craigmore Sustainables and embarking on the next phase of Babich Wines’ growth.

“It’s rare to have access to such a sizeable vineyard development, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner. There is a lot of common ground between our two businesses, most prominently our shared view that environmental stewardship and long-term, sustainable business success go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.”

To support this new initiative, Babich Wines will also be investing additional capital into its Marlborough winery to increase processing capacity to cater for additional grape supply, while continuing to deliver the product quality and consistency the winery is known for.

Craigmore will invest $40 million in the development over the next two years. Approximately 3,000 tonnes will be harvested from the vineyard at maturity, which will be processed into premium quality wines with an export value of more than $20 million.

The property was purchased in two separate transactions – the first property was granted approval by the Overseas Investment Office in October 2022 and the second in December 2022. While the capital largely comes from Europe, investments such as Cat Creek are made through a partnership that is governed and managed by the New Zealand-owned Craigmore Sustainables.

Published: 26 June 2024