Prop­erty in­vestor tar­gets Asian wine mar­ket

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - CHLOE WIN­TER

Welling­ton busi­ness­man Char­lie Zheng has re­planted and re­branded his Mart­in­bor­ough wine busi­nesses, as part of a plan to sup­ply ris­ing de­mand in the Asian mar­ket.

Zheng bought Mur­doch James and Alana Es­tate in Mart­in­bor­ough in 2011 and 2014 re­spec­tively.

He has re­named the vine­yards Luna Eclipse and Luna Blue Rock and Alana Es­tate win­ery is now Luna Es­tate, in­spired by the moon and his daugh­ter’s name.

Zheng owns 20 build­ings in Welling­ton, in­clud­ing the for­mer Molly Malone’s build­ing and the re­fur­bished Ri­coh House, through Cor­ner­stone Part­ners, a com­pany he jointly owns.

Zheng said he was a ‘‘mod­ern Chi­nese man who is in­flu­enced by global tastes and cu­riosi­ties’’, and a grow­ing move­ment in China.

‘‘Where tra­di­tion­ally peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly men, would con­sume Bai­jiu [a Chi­nese spirit made from grain] nowa­days, the younger gen­er­a­tions are turn­ing more and more to re­fined bev­er­ages such as wine.

He could see the ris­ing in­ter­est and de­mand from within China for qual­ity wine, in par­tic­u­lar red wine, Zheng said.

This is one of the rea­sons be­hind the de­ci­sion to rip up the sauvi­gnon blanc-dom­i­nated vine­yards and re­plant them with pinot noir, and more chardon­nay.

This year marks the first vin­tage un­der the win­ery’s new brand, Luna Es­tate.

The re­lease co­in­cides with the end of a year-long pro­ject to trans­form the for­mer Alana Es­tate win­ery, in­clud­ing a re­vamp of the kitchen and cel­lar door, and a new out­door court­yard for al­fresco din­ing.

In ad­di­tion, re­fur­bish­ment plans are un­der­way on a build­ing next to the win­ery and cel­lar door, which will be­come a multi- pur­pose space.

Out­side, the nat­u­ral am­phithe­atre at the Luna Eclipse vine­yard would con­tinue to be used as a venue for con­certs and events, such as Toast Mart­in­bor­ough, Zheng said.

Luna Es­tate cur­rently pro­duces 14,000 cases of wine per year and has a goal of pro­duc­ing 17,000 by 2020.

It ex­ports up to 30 per cent of its wines to China, Swe­den and Ja­pan, and has plans to de­velop mar­kets in South East Asia and Aus­tralia.

Zheng has also launched a new ex­port-only Kiwi brand, pro­duced by Luna Es­tate.

Luna Es­tate wine­maker Joel Wat­son.

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