Owning a leg of a horse or the sail of a yacht is a concept familiar to many. Joint ownership, professional outsourced management, sharing the cost and prizes and taking turns to enjoy the race or sailing in seas with a group of friends has both social and economic benefits.
The same concept when transposed to vineyards is equally alluring, if not more so. According to vineyard acquisition and management experts Virtuoso Property Group, the trend is catching up fast in the viticultural world. “Think of this as owning shares in a business - producing and selling wines, and enjoying corporate perks - the Château lifestyle and producing private label wines,” says Richard Sutton, Virtuoso’s co-founder. “We are now regularly approached by groups of investors who want to embark on the journey of learning about the terroir and making their own wine. They like to have fun doing so, but do not want to get dragged into the nitty-gritty of how many temporary staff are needed for this year’s harvest and how to employ them."
Joint ownership, sometimes referred to as Syndicate structure, can be tailored to the needs of the parties involved. At one extreme is a “fund structure”, which provides degrees of separation between investors and management and is typically more focused on driving the returns as high as possible. At the other end is a friendly arrangement where investors get involved in the vineyard management and winemaking decisions on a regular basis, thus enhancing learning opportunities and social pleasure. The permutations in between are endless.
"The key is to define the objectives, set out the framework clearly and select the management team carefully. This is easier said than done, especially if the owners are only there for a few weeks in a year,” adds Richard. "Our clients love the fact that the hassle of managing the business can be outsourced to an experienced and professional team, something we provide as our overall business management solution."
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