Doors close on 'white elephant'
A Marlborough winemaker has mothballed a beleaguered Cromwell winery.
Marlborough Vintners owner Ant Moore has closed the doors on the former Central Otago Vintners winery which he bought in 2009 after it went into receivership.
The $10 million pinot noir winery, at the former Heartland Prime Meat processing plant on Rippondale Rd, had been under the sole directorship of developer Robin Schulz when it was placed in receivership for defaulting on loan payments.
The winery processed fruit from the McArthur Ridge Springvale vineyard, near Alexandra, which continued under the new ownership.
Schulz is the director of McArthur Ridge Wines and Central Otago Pinot Noir Estate.
Central Otago Pinot Noir Estate, now insolvent, owned land earmarked for the failed $500m McArthur Ridge vineyard resort which is part of a mortgagee sale.
Ben Halliday, spokesman for Moore who was out of the country when contacted by the Mirror, said Schulz had been a client up until they closed the winery in December.
Schultz had owed them money for processing Central Otago Vintners did for him in April 2013 which was settled earlier this month, he said.
Halliday said Moore had bought a "white elephant".
"We ran it for several years but what's happened is a lot of pinot noir that's grown in Cromwell and around that area is brought up to Marlborough to be processed. The winery has capacity to do about 600 tonne but it got to the point we were only doing 200 tonne so it just wasn't viable, so mothballed it.
"It was probably almost too big for down there. You have got Central Otago Wine Company there which is quite big and there was so much processing done outside of the area; it was a bit of a white elephant."
The building was on the market and would be well suited for a micro-brewery, he said.
"A few people have expressed an interest. It has some quite large cool storage areas so could be used as a pack house for cherries or as a micro brewery . . . Someone was thinking about bottling spring water there."