SYDNEY hotelier Sam Arnaout, who last July bought the 48-hectare Sweetwater vineyard estate and its lavish Southern European-style mansion, is now buying the Hunter’s prestigious Hungerford Hill wine brand, 300-tonne crush capacity winery, vineyard, function rooms and leased restaurant.
The sale was confirmed last week by Hungerford Hill vendor James Kirby, who said the new owner planned to retain all Hungerford Hill staff and to continue to champion the emerging Tumbarumba and Hilltops wine regions.
Sam Arnaout is managing director of Iris Capital, which owns a string of Sydney pubs, including the Clovelly Hotel, The Bourbon in Potts Point and The Grand at Bondi Junction, and is a major Sydney apartment developer.
No purchase price was disclosed, but Hungerford Hill had been up for sale through Jurd’s Real Estate Cessnock at a reported asking price of $6 million. For a price said to be near $12 million, Jurd’s sold Sam Arnaout the Sweetwater estate, in Sweetwater Road, Rothbury, on behalf of property developer Duncan Hardie, the originator of the Huntlee new town project.
The 16-hectare Sweetwater vineyard’s grapes have produced a string of trophy- and gold medal-winning shiraz reds for ace Hunter winemaker Andrew Thomas. The property also has plantings of cabernet sauvignon and semillon.
James Kirby said that contracts for the sale of Hungerford Hill had been signed, with settlement expected in early December 2016. Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown would continue their lease of the two-hatted Muse Restaurant in the site’s landmark building.
Sam Arnaout’s purchase of Hungerford Hill had reinforced his commitment to the Hunter Valley.
“I’m thrilled that the winery will continue as a family-owned business,” James said. “Sam shares my passion for fine wines and will continue to build on the fantastic achievements of all our team.”
Under the 14-year Kirby control, Hungerford Hill built a fine reputation for innovation – the latest being The Underground Project brand with five inaugural wines from Tumbarumba, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and the Barossa and the 2015 Tumbarumba Pinot Noir is reviewed below.
The Hungerford Hill brand dates back to 1967 and was bought from Southcorp in 2002 by James Kirby, whose family were founders of the James N. Kirby refrigeration and engineering group. Having acquired the brand, the Kirbys gave it a home by buying what was then the One Broke Road property from former McDonald’s senior executive Tim Tighe.
SOURCE: The Newcastle Herald
AUTHOR: Jim Lewis
PUBLISHED: 9 November 2016
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