On the vine | Word is Australia’s Rathbone Wine Group selling stake in China-based Wine Republic

By Jim Boyce | Word is Rathbone Wine Group, owner of Yering Station, Mount Langi Ghiran and Xanadu in Australia, will soon finalize the sale of its share in The Wine Republic, a Beijing-based importer and distributor it founded in 2008 with Campbell Thompson, whose 15-plus years in the China trade has included a long stint as marketing director at major player ASC. The deal would see Thompson split the company with incoming investor and spouse Hou Honglan, China’s best-known ballet dancer, making it fully family-owned. It would come after years of speculation about Rathbone’s financial health and see The Wine Republic continue to handle brands like Yering Station.

Wine Republic launched eight years ago with a focus on cool-climate wines, particularly from Australia and New Zealand, and now also counts 18 brands from France and Italy in its portfolio. It has one of the strongest lineups of Austrian wine in China, including Heinrich, Loimer, Nigl and Wieninger.

Thompson recently said the company plans to expand, particularly in western China, and cited cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Kunming as targets for growth. He also said he plans to add not only more cool-climate labels but also a few from warmer climates, including Palmarium in McClaren-Vale.

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