Chinese businessman buys Rymill Coonawarra

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A Chinese businessman has bought Rymill Coonawarra from the Rymill family for an undisclosed sum. General manager Andrew Cheesman, who joined the business 12 months ago, says staff were told of the transaction this week and it’s “business as usual”.

“It’s very exciting news for the business,” Andrew says.

“The access to capital will be the underpinning of Rymill becoming one of the great estates. I’m really excited about what can be achieved here.”

The Rymill family, which established the winery in 1974, has no equity in the business and will not be directly involved in management.

“The family is keen to help represent the brand as and when appropriate,” Andrew says.

The Chinese family, headed by Mr Ye, has interests in a range of industries all over the world including in tourism and hospitality, shipping, freight, petroleum and ports.

“This is Mr Ye’s first foray into wine,” Andrew says.

“Importantly, this is about Mr Ye’s personal interest in Rymill – the transaction is not through one of the family’s corporate entities. That was important to us.”    

Mr Ye has big plans to export wine into China and the first shopping container of Classic Shiraz and Classic Cabernet Sauvignon will leave in coming weeks.

“We hope it’s the first of many,” Andrew says.

“Those wines retail for about $30 a bottle in Australia. So we’re not talking entry-level or commercial wines, which is important for the brand.”

Andrew says the new investment will see major upgrades in the winery and the vineyard.

He says staff entitlements and grower arrangements won’t be affected by the change. 

According to the Rymill website, John Rymill’s great-great grandfather, Scottish-born John Riddoch, arrived during the gold rush in 1852, and founded Coonawarra in 1890.

“John Riddoch’s daughter, Mary, grew up at Yallum and married Robert Rymill, the neighbouring Penola farmer. Her son, John Riddoch Rymill, a distinguished polar explorer, led the 1934-37 British Graham Land Expedition to the Antarctic.”

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