13 March 2024

Application to wind up Griffith winery Warburn in insolvency dismissed in Victorian Supreme Court

| Oliver Jacques
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Warburn Estate winery

Warburn Estate winery. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

An application to wind up Griffith winery Warburn Estate in insolvency was dismissed in the Victorian Supreme Court today (13 March).

Earlier this year, Melbourne-based billionaire Anthony Pratt’s packaging company Visy had sought to wind up Warburn, alleging the winery owed it $236,639.

Visy resolved its dispute with Warburn on 14 February and withdrew its court action, but a supporting creditor, global bottle maker Orora Group, initially sought to take over this wind-up application.

READ ALSO Griffith winemaker’s multi-million dollar ‘personal’ expenses scrutinised in liquidation hearing

Orora had alleged it was owed $1,142,755.

However, a Victorian Supreme Court hearing on this matter on Wednesday lasted just two minutes.

“I understand that the matter is to be dismissed today, that there is no application to substitute [take over the winding up],” Ben Horne, lawyer for Warburn Estate, told the court.

Orora’s lawyer Haley Aprile agreed.

“That is the position of my client. We seek that the substitution application filed by Orora is discontinued, that there be no order as to costs,” she said.

An order as to costs is when a court decides who pays the legal fees for a court case.

The only supporting creditor, the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer, also announced it would stop proceeding with the matter. It had previously claimed to be owed $187,478.

Judicial Registrar Claire Gitsham dismissed the wind up application against Warburn and made no order on costs.

Orora’s wind up application was previously heard by the Supreme Court on 28 February.

On that occasion, Mr Horne told the court that the bottle maker’s initial statutory demand for payment to Warburn was delivered to the wrong letterbox.

Judicial Registrar Gitsham therefore delayed the matter for two weeks, during which time the two parties appear to have reached an agreement not to proceed.

A previous attempt to wind up the winery in May 2023, led by Hanwood-based cocktail exporter Divas Beverages, was also dismissed by the Victorian Supreme Court.

Warburn Estate is engaged in a NSW Supreme Court battle against another arm of Mr Pratt’s packaging empire, Visy Glass Operations.

In that case, Warburn (the plaintiff) has alleged Visy (the defendant) supplied it with defective wine bottles that caused it to recall certain labels in 2017. This case remains ongoing.

READ ALSO Griffith winery Warburn seeks delay in court battle with billionaire’s packaging empire over allegedly defective bottles

Mr Pratt is one of Australia’s richest men, with a reported net worth of more than $24 billion. He made international headlines late last year when former American president Donald Trump called him a “red headed weirdo” after it was alleged the pair spoke about the US nuclear submarine fleet and its capabilities.

The longstanding Griffith winery Warburn Estate was established by the Sergi family in 1968.

After a tough few years for the industry, it was announced in January 2024 that Meditrina Beverages Pty Ltd, owned by Griffith’s Taliano family, were in the process of purchasing Warburn Estate’s land, plant, equipment, trademarks and cellar door. This sale is expected to be finalised this month.

Region understands that Meditrina Beverages Pty Ltd is purchasing the winery assets, not the business.

If you know more about this story, contact [email protected]

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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