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Murdoch and the Marche Wine Producer

Posted: Thursday, 16 May 2013 14:47

Murdoch and the Marche Wine Producer

May 16: The recent news report that Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has bought the 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate located in the hills above Bel Air in LA for an estimated $ 29 million, is not an isolated example of successful business investing in wine because of their passion, writes Subhash Arora who finds a similarity with the Italian businessman Walter Darini who has set up a small, modern winery he visited in the Marche region, because of his passion for wine

Click For Large ViewVisiting a new wine estate Colognola in Cingoli, near Ancona in the Italian region of Marche, thoughts drifted to a news item earlier in the day that Rupert Murdoch, with an estimated net worth of over US$11 billion, had bought the 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate. It seemed essentially a case of two businessmen successful in unrelated fields, investing a part of their capital in a wine project as they found it engaging.

The media mogul reportedly tweeted at the end of last week: “About to celebrate buying beautiful small vineyard right in LA. Great wine, Moraga, owned by great Angelino, Tom Jones. Time cover, 1961!” Whereas Murdoch is an international media star known for crossing borders where others don’t dare trudge, Walters may not be known to people outside Jesi, a town in Marche that is known for producing fencing champions in Olympics and Verdicchio dei Castello di Jesi white wines. He may be known to a select few in India using his products. He has a €30 million annual sales empire manufacturing industrial washing machines and related consumer durables that have also been exported to India for several years; he has a distributor in Bangalore and visits India often.

Walters made his fortune in manufacturing kitchen extractor hoods, refrigerators and irons. By his own admission, he had no interest in wines earlier, let along producing them but when he visited an old farm, Tenuta Musone, and saw the beauty around it with hills surrounding from three sides and the rolling landscape around the property, he fell in love with it and bought it in 2010 to make an investment in wine making. Today he talks of exporting all his wines one day soon and has lined up a strong team to achieve his ambitious objectives.

Click For Large ViewThe Moraga Estate, now owned by the Australian-American billionaire, currently produces a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The white wine is produced from Sauvignon Blanc. The first commercial vintage was release in 1989 for Moraga Red Wine and later in 1998 for Moraga White Wine. According to the Drinks Business, the winery produces between 300 and 600 cases a year with the red wine retailing for $125 a bottle and the white wine at $65 a bottle.

The Colognola estate had 21 hectares when Walters bought the property and broke it down to erect a 2000-square meters modern winery. He bought more surrounding land to increase it to 30ha. He has currently a capacity of 300,000 bottles and plans to double it to 600,000 bottles within 3 years. His current vintage of 2012 had only 20,000 bottles sold primarily in Italy with a small quantity exported to Germany. Besides the Rose Brut made using the Charmat method, he makes a Brut with Metodo Classico as well. Though he currently makes only one red wine from Montepulciano grapes, there are both the Classico and Riserva variants of Verdicchio dei Castello di Jesi since 2010.

The two examples have the entrepreneurs at vastly different business levels but have one thing in common-their passion for wine induced them into business. The agent who bought the property for Murdoch who does as he pleases and doesn’t care what you think of him, says of Murdoch, “I think he’s very interested in learning the wine business and carrying on Moraga the way that it has been. I think it’s something that intrigues him. And it’s a spectacular property.” Walter, who doesn’t care if you don’t like his smoking or beer drinking, is learning wine-drinking and making business fast and already talks and breathes wine. At the grand dinner he hosted for around 50 people on the terrace of the winery with one of the most spectacular views one ever saw, he went around asking each of the guests personally what they thought about the wine and was excitedly taking pictures of  his guests, with the beautiful panoramic view as the background.

Click For Large ViewWhat is happening regularly in both the US and Italy is not uncommon in India. The very first winery, Champagne Indage, was born and flourished for a long time despite heavy odds, because of the wine passion of Sham Chougule who was also in the business of making mechanical equipment  but the passion for French wines made him start the wine-making venture. The late Kanwal Grover had a successful machinery import business that brought him in touch with French wines and he ended up starting Grover Vineyard, the second winery in India. A few years ago, the software entrepreneur Ranjit Dhuru, who has been a collector of fine Bordeaux wines, set up the most modern winery of its time in Dindori, near Nashik, with a French sounding name - Chateau d’Ori. Unfortunately, he faced a double whammy with the unforeseen recession in the software industry coinciding with the fall in wine consumption and is currently struggling to keep afloat. But it is the passion that drove these people from the manufacturing and the IT industry - the same passion that has brought Murdoch and Walters to the wine scene.

Subhash Arora

The visit to the winery-Cantina Colognola, was made possible by the organizers of ‘Selezione Internazionale Vini da Pesce’ –an international competition for wines suitable for fish, on Tuesday. Subhash Arora has been invited as one of the 20 international judges in the 3-day competition that started yesterday, May 15-editor



Peter Mukerjea Says:

Good insights. Maybe one day Indian wines will be available in the international markets. They need to up their game , like indian beer has with the likes of Cobra and Kingfisher. Perhaps an Indian billionaire will step into the arena with the same passion as Rupert or Walters.

Posted @ May 17, 2013 17:13


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