The managing director of Cassegrain Wines is hoping a restructure will help save the family-owned business.
Managing director John Cassegrain said he appointed voluntary administrators to Cassegrain Wines Pty Ltd on June 8 following a "difficult period" for the business.
"[The administrators] will manage the business while we find a way to restructure going forward," he said.
"In a couple of weeks time there will be a meeting and by that stage the administrators will have some ideas and may put some proposals forward to the creditors."
John and Eva Cassegrain planted their first vineyard near Port Macquarie in 1980 and opened Cassegrain Wines on December 16, 1985.
Their sons Alex and Philippe now share key roles in the award-winning business, which also includes a restaurant and function centre.
The business has faced a number of hurdles over the past few years including drought, bushfires, the pandemic and now the cost of living.
The aim is to find a way of restructuring the business.- John Cassegrain
Mr Cassegrain described the past few years as "the perfect storm".
"The bushfires pretty much destroyed a whole years' crop," he said.
"Then COVID not only impacted our domestic market, but our export market as well. This particularly hit our Japanese market, which still hasn't recovered.
"And then we had the introduction of the 200 per cent tariff from China."
At the time the tariff was introduced in November 2020, China was Cassegrain's fastest growing export market.
"A business withstanding one of those things is pretty tough, but when you've got three of them on top of each other it's even harder," Mr Cassegrain said.
"We've been working really hard the last couple of years and there is some improvement, but it's just not happening as fast as we would like."
With the cost of living going up, there is also the added financial pressure of running a business.
"What really worries me now is that our electricity bill went up 30 per cent in the last 12 months and people are tightening their belt with the cost of living," Mr Cassegrain said.
"Wine is a great product, but it's not a life necessity and it's one of the things people start to cut back on."
Cassegrain Wines employs the equivalent of 20 full-time staff in a range of roles across the business.
It is understood staff were told of the winery's position on Thursday, June 8.
"I've got staff that have been with me for over 40 years. They're great people and great staff," Mr Cassegrain said.
"The uncertainty is shattering for them."
The next steps
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) advises that the first meeting of creditors will be held virtually on June 21, at 10am.
"The aim is to find a way of restructuring the business," Mr Cassegrain said.
"Fundamentally it's a good business and the really important thing in the meantime is that it's business as usual."
Mr Cassegrain said the irony is that the 2023 harvest is one of the best he has seen.
"The 2023 harvest has just wrapped up and we've got some great wines coming through," he said.
The team at Cassegrain are appreciative of the support shown to them by the community in the past few days.
"We've already received fantastic local support. If there's any time that we need local support, it's now," Mr Cassegrain said.
"We're lucky to have such a good and strong local community.
"We need to restructure, rebuild and off we go again."
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