Property investor targets Asian wine market
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.