Chinese investor buys Swartland Winery

Chinese investors are seeking wineries outside of France with tech entrepreneur William Wu buying a controlling stake in the Swartland Winery in South Africa.

As reported by Bloomberg, Wu, who has lived in South Africa since the ‘80s, has acquired a 51% share in the winery in the country’s trendy Swartland region for an undisclosed sum.

Wu will be made chairman of the 64-year-old winery in Malmesbury, which produces 24 million bottles of wine a year from grapes sourced across 3,600 hectares.

“The market is in China where I have a ready demand for the quality and volume of wine Swartland produces,” Wu said in the statement.

Having originally favoured the classic Old World regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, Chinese investors are developing a thirst for South African wineries.

In addition to the Swartland Winery, Wu has a stake in Veenwouden winery in Paarl. He is keen to focus on red wine production to cater to Chinese palates.

Poor vintages force château sale

A Chinese buyer has acquired a Northern Médoc property from its French and Dutch owners who decided to sell following recent difficult vintages, especially this year when hail decimated its crop.

The estate, Château Preuillac, is a 30 hectare cru Bourgeois property which is 50% owned by the Mau family, former owners of Bordeaux négociant Yvon Mau – acquired by Freixenet in 2001 – and the Dirkzwager family, Yvonne Mau’s distributor in The Netherlands.

Speaking to the drinks business this morning about the sale, Richard Bampfield MW, who acts as a marketing consultant for the Mau family, said that recent growing-season conditions in the northern Médoc had encouraged Preuillac’s owners to re-think their investment in this part of Bordeaux, as well as focus their efforts on Château Brown in Pessac-Léognan, which is also owned jointly by the two families, and is fast-gaining a reputation for its high quality white Bordeaux.

“It’s fair to say that the last 2-3 vintages have been difficult in the northern Médoc, and after this year particularly, when the property was hit by hail, they [the two families] thought they should concentrate on Château Brown,” he said.

Furthermore, in a previous discussion with the drink business, Jean-Christophe Mau, who has been managing both châteaux, said that “the sale was a good price for us and a high price for the Médoc.”

Although neither the sale price nor the buyer of the Preuillac property has been disclosed, the estimated value of a good cru bourgeois property in the Médoc is around €50,000 per hectare, suggesting that the estate would have changed hands for at least €1.5 million.

According to Bampfield, the buyer from China would prefer to remain anonymous, partly because he does not intend to live at the château and partly because he is keen for Jean-Christophe Mau to continue to manage the estate as before.

Indeed, Jean-Christophe told db that he would stay on as manager of Château Preuillac, but also said that its sale would allow him to focus on renovating the vineyards at Château Brown, where he said he was even considering opening a restaurant.

News of this latest Bordeaux acquisition by a Chinese national follows the announcement earlier this month that New Century Tourism Group, which claims to be among the 20 largest hotel operators in China, has agreed to buy Cadillac estate Château de Birot.