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Australian Vintage’s McGuigan is a leading brand in the UK

Accolade Wines and Australian Vintage – two of Australia’s leading winemakers – look to be shaping up for a merger.

Responding to media speculation, Australian Vintage, owner of brands including McGuigan and Tempus Two, said it was in early stage discussions over a possible deal with Accolade Wines.

“Australian Vintage confirms it is in exploratory discussions with Accolade, however these discussions are at a very early stage and there is no certainty that any transaction will eventuate,” the company told investors on Monday (26 February).

Accolade Wines, which is Australia’s second-largest winemaker and owns brands including Hardys, Echo Falls and Jam Shed, is itself preparing for a change in ownership, after a consortium led by Bain agreed to purchase the group last month.

The Bain-led consortium has been purchasing Accolade’s debt at a discount and expects to become its largest shareholder by the middle of 2024.

The group’s current owner The Caryle Group paid A$1bn to acquire Accolade in 2018, but has been seeking to offload the wine maker due to premiumisation trends and ongoing Chinese tariffs on Australian wine affecting sales.

It had also been selling off assets, including Tasmanian brand Bay of Fires, in a bid to reduce Accolade’s debt.

Australian Vintage has also reported challenges owing to its exposure to the mainstream end of the wine category.

In its most recent financial results for the half year ended 31 December 2023, it reported revenues were down 0.7%, to A$136m.

Australian Vintage CEO Craig Garvin said that given “the trading environment, and the challenging industry conditions”, the result was in line with expectations.