FORESTRY company Gunns Limited has sold its Tasmanian winery to industry giant Brown Brothers for $32.5 million.
The purchase of Tamar Ridge Winery, which includes established brand Devils Corner, was in part due to global warming, according to Brown Brothers chief executive Ross Brown.
Known for producing cool-climate wines, Victorian-based Brown Brothers expects average temperatures to rise 2C at its current vineyards over the next 15 years.
Mr Brown told The Weekly Times the purchase was driven by the need for cooler-climate sites.
"We had a strategic review about the threats to our business and climate change was a threat," Mr Brown said.
The purchase allowed Brown Brothers to expand further into sparkling wine and take over a quality pinot noir.
Mr Brown said Australia's best sparkling wine would come from the Victorian high country and from Tasmania.
He said pinot noir sales currently account for 5 per cent of Australian wine consumption and are growing at about 30 per cent annually.
"We see that as the only growing category in dry red at the moment," Mr Brown said.
"There are barriers to entry to pinot. You can't just buy land in the Murray Valley (a warm climate wine region) and make good (pinot noir).
"We've been trying to grow it in high altitudes in North East Victoria unsatisfactorily. Tasmania makes fabulous pinot and we think Tasmania can own Pinot as a location."
Mr Brown had also searched southern Victoria for sites.
He had not intended to purchase an established vineyard but discovered Gunns was selling the Tamar Ridge business and it was "well put together".
A spokesman for Gunns said the company sold Tamar Ridge, near Launceston, to focus on its core forestry operations.
It had announced earlier this year it was looking at divesting some assets and had gone through a swift sale process, the spokesman said.