Brown Brothers confirms restructure, vineyard sales
By James Atkinson
Brown Brothers will sell vineyards in Tasmania and Victoria in the latest phase of a restructure that has seen the company scale back its UK operations and make 10 staff at its Milawa winery redundant.
Brown Brothers public relations manager Katherine Brown told TheShout the company will sell the 60 hectare Whitlands vineyard in King Valley, Victoria, as well as the 84 hectare White Hills property in Tasmania.
"With our focus on Prosecco at the moment, we're going to concentrate on our Banksdale vineyard and therefore we don't have as much need for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay up at Whitlands," she said.
"The Whitlands property was also a big property for Pinot Grigio… Now that we've pulled back from the UK market, the Pinot Grigio isn't as useful, so that's another reason why we've heavy-heartedly decided to put Whitlands on the market," Brown said.
In Tasmania, she said Brown Brothers' Hazards and Kayena vineyards are now able to supply the winery with enough quality fruit that it can consolidate its holdings with the sale of White Hills.
Brown said Brown Brothers currently owns 80 per cent of all its vineyards, and is moving towards a more cost effective situation whereby this proportion would be reduced to 50 per cent and the remainder sourced from growers.
She said the recent decision of Brown Brothers' UK brand manager to leave the company was the catalyst that led it to reconsider its future in that market, where its revenue is only about 10 per cent of what it was five years ago.
"With the current exchange rate, it's just not viable anymore. If the dollar turns around in a few years time we would of course love to be back in that market," she said.
She confirmed the reduced volume had led to the loss of 10 roles at the Milawa winery across finance, sales, information technology, engineering and marketing.
"It's with great regret, because it's such a small community, but we just don't have a role for these people anymore," she said.
"At the moment we really want to focus on the domestic market, because that's where we can make money, and also focus on Asia."