111 year-old winery for sale

GROWTH POTENTIAL: Te Kauwhata’s 111-year-old winery was originally a research facility.
GROWTH POTENTIAL: Te Kauwhata’s 111-year-old winery was originally a research facility.

Te Kauwhata's 111 year-old winery is for sale as her owners seek to free up capital.

The building was the original research station for New Zealand's viticulture industry, built by the government in 1903 and under the direction of government viticulturist Romeo Bragato.

Bragato was considered a key player in establishing New Zealand's fledgling wine industry. The New Zealand annual Winegrowers conference and awards are named after him.

Prime Commercial real estate agent Geoff Thorne said Bragato provided all of the technical support to the New Zealand wine industry during his tenure.

"[It] remained there as the Government appointed [research station] until 1992," he said.

"Then it got sold to Rongopai Wines, and they used the site until 2007 for their vinting and all that kind of thing."

The building was bought by current owner TK Vinters and Bottlers in June of 2007. Mark Anderson and David Babich are listed as directors of TK Vinters and Bottlers on the Companies Office. Babich is also listed as a shareholder of Babich Wines Ltd, a long-standing New Zealand wine company founded by Croatian immigrant Josip Babich in 1916.

Thorne said the company had invested a significant amount of capital in upgrading the 1600 square metre premises.

"They set up a legal quality wine service and they offer a range of services from these premises that includes bottling, packaging, labelling, export loading and certification, because their predominant business at TK is export," he said.

"They've spent quite a lot of money over the last few years really upgrading their plant so it complies with the export standards."

Thorne said the property does have heritage status, "so there are restrictions on what you can do to the buildings without getting permission".

While the buildings and land on which they sit are up for sale at $1,890,000 plus GST, Thorne said the owners would consider an offer on the business as a going concern.

"I haven't seen the books but the information I have shows that it's a pretty profitable business with huge growth. It can double its output with the amount of space and production area that they've got available," he said.

"They like it there because it's very handy to all the ports and rail systems, Tauranga and Auckland ports."

The property, which has been on the market since last week, would be suitable for a passive investor wanting to hold an income-producing tenanted investment, or for someone in the wine industry who may eventually want to take over the business, or for an overseas investor looking to get into the New Zealand wine industry.

TK Vinters and Bottlers hold a six-year lease at the property from July last year. They pay rent of $148,000 a year net including GST and 100 per cent of outgoings.

Thorne pointed out the winery was also close to a major residential development in Pokeno, and a new $210 million dairy plant being built by Chinese infant milk company [Yashili] in Pokeno.

John Cunningham, who sits on the Te Kauwhata Community Committee said the winery was a well-known local site with plenty of history. He said there used to be around 30 vineyards in the area when Bragato was based there, down to about five now.

Waikato Times