Winarch Capital’s newly-formed Cedar Mill Group has acquired one of the Hunter Valley wine region’s most premium development sites for its second purpose-built outdoor amphitheatre and tourism project, at a cost of $107 million.
It follows the previously announced $235 million redevelopment of Morisset Golf Course, to be known as Cedar Mill Lake Macquarie, with plans for a 30,000 person concert venue, cafes and restaurants, accommodation and Australia’s largest aquatic play park.
The new property, based in Pokolbin, is on the corner of Broke and McDonalds Roads and sits adjacent to the Roche Estate food and beverage precinct and next to the Hope Estate winery.
There are plans for Cedar Mill Hunter Valley to house a 100-bed hotel, specialist food and beverage, a wine museum, multiple cellar doors and a 22,000 person concert venue to host events from some of the biggest local and international acts touring Australia.
The vision for the site includes the delivery of a venue that is also capable of hosting events, conferences and functions, and attract tourists seeking high-end visitor experiences. This includes local growers and operators providing boutique goods and dining experiences inspired by the local agricultural heritage and, of course, winemaking, distilling and brewing.
The proposed $107 million project will bring 68,045 additional visitors to the region and inject an additional $33 million each year, according to the REMPLAN economic modelling.
Cedar Mill Group General Manager Kyle McKendry described the Pokolbin position as the only remaining premium development site in the Hunter Valley wine region.
“It is 105 acres right in the centre of Hunter Valley wine country and had been held by the previous owners for over 30 years. It was an amazing opportunity,” McKendry said. “Without doubt, this is a very significant acquisition for the Cedar Mill Group and an exciting step towards our plans to have outdoor venues coupled with exciting tourism concepts in the best locations in Australia and New Zealand.
“Cedar Mill Hunter Valley and Cedar Mill Lake Macquarie are purpose-built, the first in Australia on this scale,” he added. “Our aim is to provide an unparalleled visitor experience in the heart of the region, offering a gateway for tourists to connect with everything that makes the Hunter Valley a world-class visitor destination and event hub.”
The Hunter Valley is steeped in history with more than 150 wineries, acclaimed dining and the freshest produce. The region leaves lasting impressions on over 8.5 million visitors every year and is just a two-hour drive north of Sydney, with over 90% of visitors coming from NSW.
Development plans for Cedar Mill Hunter Valley will be lodged in the coming months, with the construction phase projected to create over 500 new jobs (215 direct, 285 indirect) and inject $207.5 million through build costs, job creation, supply chain and consumption.
Winarch Capital CEO, Paul Lambess, said once Cedar Mill Hunter Valley opens its doors it will create hundreds of new jobs and bolster the local economy, and the events and tourism sectors.
“Our plans for Cedar Mill Hunter Valley are ambitious,” Lambess said. “We want to create a precinct with great places where visitors can do lots of different activities and experiences. This is why people come to the Hunter and we want our venue to complement the great vineyards, restaurants and experiences that already exist here.
“During construction, there will be direct jobs but also indirect jobs through supply chain and support workers,” he added. “This will have a flow-on effect for the local economy. We want to become part of the community both during construction and ongoing operations by providing jobs and opportunities for local people.”
The purchase of the Pokolbin property further cements Cedar Mill Group’s plans to play a major role in the return of live events and tourism after a challenging period of international and state border closures, and unpredictable lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lambess and McKendry are also searching for future Cedar Mill sites across Australia.