By Andy Young
Casella Family Brands (CFB) has continued its process of expansion with the acquisition of Morris Wines from Pernod Ricard Winemakers (PRW).
Earlier this month PRW said that it had “made the difficult decision” to close the Morris Winery and Vineyard, and that it was hoping to sell the business. As a result of that decision CFB moved in to acquire the business, with immediate effect.
Speaking about the purchase, CFB managing director, John Casella, said: "I’m delighted to welcome Morris Wines into the Casella family, particularly due to our longstanding relationship with the Morris family, which goes back 50 years to when my father supplied grapes to their former Griffith winery.
“Morris Wines is an iconic Australian winery and one of the greatest fortified wineries in the world, with over 150 years of history and winemaking tradition. I believe we are well placed to build on the strength of the brand and cellar door experience to ensure Morris Wines continues its legacy.”
PRW said that it was selling Morris Wines because it wasn’t “sustainable” following a decline in the consumption of fortified wine, but Casella said that he felt there is an opportunity to grow the Morris of Rutherglen brand in the premium price segment.
He added: “I believe the premium fortified category offers growth potential and Casella Family Brands is well placed to invest in developing the Morris of Rutherglen brand. I also recognise the excellent quality of the other wines Morris Wines produces including Durif, Shiraz and Cabernet.”
CFB said that it would be “business as usual” for Morris Wines, with David Morris staying in his role as chief winemaker, maintaining over 150 years of family heritage with the brand.
Morris said: “I’m delighted that Morris Wines has been returned to family ownership. The Morris family has built Morris of Rutherglen into an iconic Australian brand and John Casella believes in honouring family legacy and winemaking tradition. The purchase by Casella Family Brands can only be a positive outcome for the winery, the brand, the region and the industry. We’re looking forward to embarking on the next chapter of our journey under the stewardship of Casella Family Brands.”
The transaction, which completed on Friday 22 July 2016, includes purchase of the winery, cellar door, 80 hectares of vineyards, stock and the Morris of Rutherglen brand IP. The financial terms of the sale are commercial in confidence.