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Monday 10 August 2020

Mystery surrounds the future of Katnook Estate

What is the future for historic Coonawarra wine producer Katnook Estate?

Established in 1867 by Scottish immigrant John Riddoch, Katnook Estate is one of the oldest existing wineries in the region and its vineyards stretch over 155 hectares on the famous terra rossa soil strip.

The winery has been through several different owners in recent years and is now being marketed again - just two years after German conglomerate Henkell-Freixenet took control - and announced expansion plans. 

Henkell-Freixenet is based in Weisbaden, Germany, and is part of the Dr Oetker food/frozen pizza group.

In March 2018, Henkell bought 50.67% of Spanish sparkling wine producer Freixenet. The purchase included Australian subsidiary the Wingara Wine Group, owner of Katnook Estate and Deakin Estate.

The new proposed sale includes the restored woolshed which serves as Katnook’s barrel room, as well as John Riddoch’s beautifully restored, historic limestone buildings.

Since the death of long-time winemaker Wayne Stehbens - who died suddenly in late 2017 - former Cloudy Bay winemaker Tim Heath has been and gone and Frank Newman is listed on the website as the current winemaker.

The winery made its long-serving marketing person redundant in January and I have not heard anything from them since.

Stehbens twice won the Jimmy Watson Trophy and the winery has a focus on cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc.

The Henkell-Freixenet Group is the world’s biggest sparkling wine producer.

The proposed sale includes the Katnook Wine inventory and intellectual property and is being marketed by Colliers International Agribusiness.

The assets also include water licences.

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