Vintara Winery snapped up

Jack Liu and Michael Murtagh at the Vintara winery. Picture: DAVID THORPE
Jack Liu and Michael Murtagh at the Vintara winery. Picture: DAVID THORPE

RUTHERGLEN’S Vintara Winery has announced its sale to a Chinese exporter who plans to expand the business, creating five new jobs.

King Jack Wines, which exports about 10,000 cases of Australian wines into China annually, will double the size of Vintara’s Fraser Road 18-hectare vineyard.

Owner Jack Liu said he also planned to lift the profile of its use for weddings and other functions.

“I wanted to buy it to make great red wines,” he said.

Mr Liu, who moved to Melbourne from China in 2009 and founded his business the next year, said he planned to use the product to expand his exports into the newfound red wine-loving region.

He will also continue to operate the winery, restaurant and function centre much the same, with no changes to the wine.

All staff will stay on, he said, including the chef, with five additional jobs to be created.

Mr Liu said he hoped to bring out Chinese business associates to the winery.

Previous owner Michael Murtagh, who will stay on working at the winery for at least six months, said his decision to sell came from two reasons.

“Reason one, it’s been very hard to get capital to grow our business — the banks don’t want to lend you money,” he said.

“Also, working seven days a week for six years, it’s time for a change.”

Mr Murtagh said without exports, the wine industry was tough.

He said to be able to make overseas contacts and build volume, required capital unavailable in the financial climate.

This was where, he said, Mr Liu was able to step in.

“It’s your baby in the end, so it’s a good thing they’re going to maintain it and grow the function end,” Mr Murtagh said.

He said he could see no negatives to come from foreign ownership.

“Anybody that brings capital and a long-term outlook to Australian agriculture, is an absolute bonus,” he said.

“These people employee people, buy our grapes and make good Australian product.”