Lake George Winery’s new owners plan to expand the operation into a destination events and function centre with a capacity of up to 500 people, as well as tapping into the international tourism market.
The iconic 50-year-old vineyard with restaurant, function centre and accommodation sold on Sunday (6 August) at auction for a total of $4.55 million, including $400,000 in stock, to four partners involved in the local accommodation and hospitality industry.
Previous owner Sarah McDougall and her husband bought the 111-hectare property four years ago for $2.9 million but decided to sell after the death of husband Anthony last year.
Auction Advantage selling agent Frank Walmsley said the property attracted interest from 60 to 70 parties from interstate and overseas, but on auction day this boiled down to only three registered bidders.
Mr Walmsley described the new owners – Avtar Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Jag Singh (Hamilton’s Queanbeyan Motel) and Amardeep Singh (Punjabi Hut restaurant) – as having a lot of entrepreneurial courage.
Jag Singh told Region the partners had been exploring this kind of opportunity for some time, so when they saw the property on Facebook only the Sunday before the auction, they did not hesitate.
“We saw it on Facebook, and yesterday we bought the winery,” he said.
“We were looking for something like this in terms of a space or location where we could run weddings, events and functions but at a bigger scale.”
Lake George Winery can cater for about 120 people but Mr Singh said the group was looking at a new function centre – either completely new or extended – that could take 500 so it could cater for all the communities from the region and beyond.
He said there weren’t any large centres in Canberra and an average Indian wedding, for example, could have 300-400 guests.
The group would also like to expand the current accommodation offering, which includes four tiny homes, a glamping tent, the former manager’s cottage and the main homestead, to 10-15 properties.
Mr Singh said the destination venue could offer wedding, accommodation and wine-tasting tour packages to Sydney and international visitors, as well as host corporate events and community celebrations.
Heavily involved in sustainability, he also wants to install solar panels and electric vehicle fast chargers, which he sees as another attraction for visitors from Sydney.
Mr Singh said the winery had a great history and the group would like to build on that legacy to expand this iconic space for the region.
Staff including the winemakers were expected to stay on to help make the new owners’ vision a reality.
Lake George has 8 hectares under vines and produces Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz for which it has won accolades including TOPGOLD for its Chardonnay at Canberra Region Wine Show and a 4.5-star venue rating by wine reviewer James Halliday.
This year it produced a 32 tonne vintage.