Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Nyetimber sold for 7.5M

Published:  23 July, 2008

Nyetimber Vineyards, widely seen as one of the UK's finest sparkling wine producers, has been sold to a UK-based Dutch venture capitalist for an estimated 7.5 million.
The buyer, Eric Heerema, told Harpers he was taking a very long-term view' with the project, and definitely will not compromise the quality of the product'. He said: Every aspect of the business will be looked at, from the vineyards to the winemaking to the bottling with a view to increase quality.'
The current winemaker, Dermot Sugrue, has been retained, with Christopher Varley, a management consultant, appointed as interim general manager. Heerema will take on the position of chief executive on a part-time basis.

Heerema, who lives on a farm near Petworth with his family, said he was planning to double the current vineyard area from 16 hectares to 24ha. You won't see a dramatic increase in production for quite some time,' said Heerema. First, we have to wait for the vines to age, then we will have to taste the resulting wines and see if they are up to the Nyetimber standard.' Nyetimber's current vines have an average age of 14 years (with the oldest planted in 1988). Heerema said he was not ruling out launching a second label although that is only one of many options we have'.

We have a wonderful Elizabethan manor house on the property which we are going to restore and use for promotional purposes. We also have an estate of 120 acres [48.5ha] and will analyse them all to see which, if any, of the unplanted acres are best for winegrowing.'

Heerema said that although the purchase price - rumoured to be around 7.5 million - appears high for a producer that has previously struggled to make a profit, it has to be put in context of extremely high property prices in the south

of England and the fact that the Nyetimber estate comes complete with an Elizabethan manor house and an

extensive estate'.

He ruled out selling off parts of the estate or asset-stripping the property: It is my intention to keep the estate together. Although we want it to be profitable in the long-term, I am looking to invest in the company and build it from the outset. I very much see this as a family company.'

Nyetimber currently has two wines on the market: a Blanc de Blanc and Classic Cuve (both are vintage wines). Distribution is through Waitrose, Majestic, independent retailers and the on-trade. The average retail price is about 19.