Moorilla Estate has announced the purchase of one of Tasmania’s leading vineyards, Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard in the Coal River Valley.
The sale comes after owner Peter Althaus decided to retire.
“My retirement and the decision to sell the business was certainly not an easy one, but from many interested parties (both local and international) I am confident I have chosen the right organisation, winemaker and people to maintain my label’s integrity and qualities,” Althaus said.
“In keeping with my ethos of winemaking and business, this decision had very little to do with money! It was, most importantly, about feeling assured that the legacy I have built will be in the hands of the appropriate custodians.”
Moorilla Estate is owned by Mona’s David Walsh, who purchased it from the Alcorso family in 2006. Claudio Alcorso founded Moorilla in 1958.
“We recognise Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard as a cornerstone of quality Tasmanian winemaking and are delighted to now have it join our portfolio,” said Conor van der Reest, winemaker and general manager at Moorilla.
“Moorilla and Domaine A are both very much focused on making wines that truly show what Tasmania and our individual vineyards have to offer. We look forward to working with Peter and Ruth Althaus to make sure we protect the integrity of this brand that has such a loyal and well-deserved customer base.”
The addition of Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard’s stock will help cater to Mona’s increasing demand on-site.
“We see the strength in the unity of these two significant Tasmanian brands,” van der Reest said. “We will, however, operate them as separate entities, ensuring Domaine A is made using the same great techniques Peter and Ruth have developed and implemented over the years.”
The purchase is effective March 1. Moorilla will make no changes to Domaine A’s existing employees.
Revolutionising Tasmanian tourism comes at a high price
Moorilla Estate lodged its first-ever financial report with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission this month, which revealed losses of $23 million in 2016-17 and $18 million in 2015-16.
Running Mona and associated festivals including Dark Mofo has left owner David Walsh $41 million out of pocket. Mona welcomed 381,052 visitors during 2017, while Dark Mofo attracted 444,056 patrons.
Last year the company had revenue of $31.9 million but expenses of $34 million and the $20 million cost of employing 400 employees resulted in the loss. The company received grants of $3.3 million last year and $2.7 million the year before.
“The related party loans were largely provided to enable discretionary capital works and art acquisitions,” the report said.
Walsh assured News Corp the future of the operation was secure.
“If it wasn’t I’d close it. It isn’t compulsory. It’ll very likely be fine after I am dead,” he said.
“We are planning a hotel/function centre/bunch of other stuff including, possibly, a high roller casino — which probably won’t make money but will give art elite types and poker machine operators the s..ts.”
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said: “The tourism industry has grown by more than $1 billion a year since Mona opened so an estimate of $100 million contribution would be conservative.
“The impact on Tasmania’s brand, visitation, and the inspiration to others to invest because of the confidence that Mona engenders is almost immeasurable.”