Name: Michael Wright – Businessman – Owner of Voyager Estate
Date of Birth: 1937
Education: Christ Church Grammar School
Type of Business: Winery Business
Main Achievements: Michael Wright bought Freycinet Estate in 1991 and changed its name to Voyager Estate; he built it from scratch into not only a winery but also a tourist attraction of sorts. Today, Voyager Estate gets more than 150,000 visitors and produces 40, 000 cases of wine a year, with an estimated annual revenue of $37.5 million.
Something interesting about the person:Wright, although the owner of one of Western Australia’s largest wineries, has a high intolerance for the alcoholic beverage himself. Being the owner of Voyager Estate, he had a particular sparkling nonalcoholic grape juice made for himself.
Biography:Michael John Maynard Wright was born in 1937 in Western Australia to father, Peter Wright, a prosperous iron ore prospector and owner of Wright Prospecting, and mother, Pauline McClemans, the daughter of William McClemans. Michael spent his schooling years at Christ Church Grammar School, a school formed by his grandfather, Canon McClemans.
Michael’s business career began at his father’s owned Wright Prospecting. In 1985, after his father’s death, he inherited a $900 million (AUS) fortune joint with his sister. In 1991, he bought the Freycinet Estate, the vineyards, and Winehouse, from the Gherardi family; he changed the name to Voyager Estate and expanded the wine production for commercial purposes. In 1995, Michael cashed in on the fact that the trademark for the Dutch EIC no longer stood, and hence claimed it to begin export of his wines to countries like South Africa and Holland. He later opened the ground and vineyard for tourist access and used the trademark to increase the value of both the wine and food products sold by correlating it to the area’s history.
The Voyager Estate on the Margaret River, a forty-hectare large property, out of which fourteen were covered in the vineyard, became known as one of the most high-end wine-tasting facilities in Australia, bringing in up to 1500 visitors in a single day. After having made a name for himself, Wright expanded his winery business even further; he also sat on the board of Governors at Notre Dame University in a small port city in WA.
In 2010, he won a legal court case opposite the daughter of his father’s business partner, Gina Rinehart, and received a sum of $1 billion (AUS). In addition to this, he claimed legal ownership to 25 percent of his father’s jointly owned iron ore mine with businessman Lang Hancock in north WA. His sister, Angela Bennet, and he, also owned 15 percent shares in one of the largest mining corporations in the world, Pilbara Iron, a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group.
Michael knew much about climate, soil types, agriculture, and land. He researched extensively before investing the fortune he inherited from his father into the buying of the now Voyager Estate, and actively participated in both administrative and financial handlings for the lucrative business he’d set up throughout his life. He also set up a thirty-meter long flag pole, the third-highest in the country, solely to attract tourists to the area. By 2010, the annual revenue of the Voyager and all its side businesses was an average of $37.5 million (AUS).
In May 2010, at the age of seventy-four, Michael Wright passed away, the cause being cancer, leaving ownership and management of his primary business to his daughter Alexandra Burt. He left each of his daughters, Alexandra and Leonie Baldock, a sum of $400 million each, and around $18 million to his son, Miles Wright. Their half-sister, Olivia Mead, received an amount of around $7 in a very public court case after proving her claim of being Michael Wright’s daughter true.
Michael’s life, dedicated to the flourishing of his established Voyager, proved to be of worth in that regard. He died not only a successful businessman but leaving vast sums and a legacy behind.