Foley Wines to develop vast new vineyard, restaurant project

04 Jun 2020 9:19 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

NZX-listed Foley Wines plans to build a two-level multimillion-dollar development in Martinborough where more than 20 people will work in a Californian-style venture backed by American billionaire Bill Foley.

Its brands - Te Kairanga, Martinborough Vineyard and Lighthouse Gin - will get a new home and the project will include a restaurant, private dining, tasting room, underground barrel hall and distillery.

Chief executive Mark Turnbull said the business had been working on the concept for the past two years. The Te Kairanga winery on Martins Rd will be redeveloped, an old winery building will be removed "and this new purpose-built facility will go up".

"It's a big building in the Wairarapa. It will employ a lot of people. There's a few drivers: underground will be an area where the wine barrels will be stored and we just need more storage facility," he said.

"Wine tourism has been a growth category in New Zealand and around the world. Clearly there's going to be a subdued period, but given the project will take around 18 months, we feel we will be well placed when international tourism returns," Turnbull said.

The restaurant will seat 100 people but with further capacity in a private dining room and outdoor terrace. Weddings will also be hosted. A tasting room and guided tours are also planned. The underground barrel hall will meet the growing needs of the Te Kairanga Winery on the same property, the company said.

Lighthouse Gin's new distillery within the development will give it the space and design to meet demand, with a custom-built copper still commissioned from German distillery manufacturer CARL.

"Lighthouse Gin is really taking off so we're contracting one of the leading still makers, which is a 12-month project on its own," Turnbull said.

Visitors will be able to see the distiller at work, Foley Wines said.

"We really wanted to establish a place where people can see the brands and taste the products. We know from Mt Difficulty, which has a strong brand, that so many people have been to the Central Otago vineyard and experienced it," Turnbull said.

"The more we build the brand, the more people we'll get. There are so many people in Wellington and it's only an hour away," Turnbull said.

The construction contract is yet to be let so he was reluctant to put a figure on the cost.

"We've got resource consent, so we're working on the detailed working drawings," Turnbull said.

Architect Charlie Nott designed the new building project. He has also worked on Depot Eatery, Best Ugly Bagels and the Amisfield Winery, Foley Wines said.

Chairman Foley said: "I have always been passionate about the Wairarapa in terms of the exceptional wines we produce but also its tourism. My family continues to invest in Wharekauhau Country Estate, the Lodge we personally own in the region. I believe investment at Te Kairanga will benefit our brands incredibly but also the broader economy in the greater Wellington region."

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen welcomed the investment.

By: Anne Gibson

Property editor, NZ Herald