Boutique winery faces end of the road
It could be the end of the line for Waikato's award-winning Hilltop Wines.
The vineyard, doubling as a concert venue in recent years, is up for sale and there are doubts whether a new owner would continue with wine production.
Confirming the closure, owner-operator Phil Abel said he has listed the property as a lifestyle block on Trade Me.
Abel is selling the 1.9 hectare section complete with the 0.6ha vineyard at a reduced price of $945,000. He had previously put the business on the market through TourismProperties.co.nz early last year for $1.35 million but failed to attract a buyer.
The Pencarrow Rd property sits between Hamilton and Cambridge on a hill overlooking the Waikato river and the unique view provided Abel with his brand name.
Abel has hopes that a new owner may want to continue with the vineyard and brand he and his wife Lorraine have spent the past 10 years building up.
But he said with the trouble the wine industry is going through, it was unlikely.
"It's difficult at the scale we're at to make it stack up pretty well,"Abel said.
"We're in the position to leave [the vineyard] in, or pull it out if the new owner doesn't want it."
"We're resigned to the fact that the vineyard may be history . . . hours and hours of work have gone into getting it to where it is now and it'll be a sad day."
Abel and his wife Lorraine bought the property in 2002 and hand planted the vines on the land.
They produce more than 5000 bottles of red and white wines a year which they sell to restaurants around the country as well as over the internet and at release parties.
The property also has a resource consent from the Waikato Regional Council to hold an event for up to 2000 people once a year and hosts the Sunset Concert series.
"We identified the model that might work in the vineyard is probably to be doing events . . . I guess there is the option out there for somebody to try to take that to the next level," Abel said.
"It could potentially be converted to some kind of small-scale event venue but we didn't feel it was for us to take it to that stage."
Abel said the consent is easily transferable should new owners want to pursue that course. Production of wines will cease and there is no 2012 vintage.
But Abel said wines would continue to be available at selected upper North Island restaurants as the cellared stock is released. Bottles can also be bought directly from the vineyard at Hilltop's last release party on November 4.
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