Isabel Estate Vineyards founders bankrupt
The founders of a boutique Marlborough winery have been declared bankrupt, following a string of unpaid debts by a company the pair own.
Michael and Robyn Tiller - the directors of Isabel Estate Vineyard in Marlborough - failed to appear in High Court last Tuesday when their bankruptcy orders were handed down.
This comes more than a year after the wine company went into receivership, along with Isabel Estate Partnership and Shelby Estate Ltd, which together trade as Isabel Estate.
The Tillers established the winery in 1982, however, after running into financial troubles, the vineyard and branding was sold to Pinnacle Drinks - a subsidiary of Australian grocery giant Woolworths - for more than $3 million.
The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) applied to bankrupt the pair on November 30, and the application was granted by associate judge Warwick Smith.
To date, the Tillers have not fronted for the receivership nor the subsequent liquidation of the companies.
They could not be reached for comment about their bankruptcies.
As at July 2016, Isabel Estate Vineyard owed more than $4.5m.
When the three entities first went into receivership in July 2014, the debt was $12.4m.
At the time, receivers Richard Longman and John Fisk, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said they were appointed "primarily due to cash flow pressures resulting from certain high cost supply contracts, compounded by low vineyard yields in recent vintages leading to unprofitable trading".
Longman and Fisk's latest report shows the company reduced its debt with the BNZ, as well as paid $29,000 to its 15 employees for unpaid wages, salary and holiday pay; $9000 to NZ Customs and Excise; and an additional $9000 to the BNZ for wages and salary payments.
Aside from a rebate from the Australian Wine Equalisation Tax, which was being organised, all other assets were "realised", the report said.