Award-winning winery and farmers' market

By Colin Taylor

The winery and restaurant is a popular wedding and function venue.
The winery and restaurant is a popular wedding and function venue.

A boutique winery and a local farmers' market in Oratia, Waitakere, is for sale as a going concern business and freehold property for the first time since it was developed from an apple orchard.

"Artisan Wines is a fully functioning and award-winning vineyard," says David Savery, of NAI Harcourts Henderson who, with Julie Couper, of NAI Harcourts Albany, is selling the 4.32ha property and business by tender closing on February 26.

"It comes complete with a cellar door facility, a restaurant, a substantial and popular farmers' market with covered stalls and resource consent in place to build a much larger function centre."

Savery says Artisan Wines was the first to gain organic grape certification in West Auckland and has gained a reputation for its organic wines.

"Its award-winning wines are made and bottled locally at a contract facility from grapes grown on site and in Marlborough, and the wine is sold domestically and offshore.

"Among its many awards over the past 10 years are medals for its sauvignon, syrah, chardonnay and pinot gris. Its syrah 2010 vintage, for instance, won silver at last year's Royal Easter Show wine awards, pure silver at the Romeo Bragato Awards 2013 and a bronze at the NZ International Wine Show 2013."

Also in 2013, Artisan's chardonnay won silver at the London International Wine Challenge 2013, bronze at the NZ International Wine Show 2013, pure bronze at the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards 2013 and a Four Stars Sam Kim Wine Orbit in May.

"Selling wine is only one string to Artisan's income bow," Savery says. The picturesque vineyard in the Oratia Valley, 25 minutes by car from Auckland's central business district, is also a popular wedding and function venue and there is room to build a large homestead on site.

The restaurant seats 40 people inside and an extensive outdoor dining area can accommodate up to 100 with on-site parking for up to 200 vehicles depending on the season. There is also a small meeting room for private and corporate functions which caters for 10 at a time.

At present it is a lunchtime restaurant six days a week and is also open on Friday nights. The cellar door is open seven days and a farmers' market is hosted on Saturday mornings.

For larger indoor weddings, there is the opportunity to have the function in a marquee with table seating for up to 70, using the restaurant/cellar door facility as the bar.

Owners Rex and Maria Sunde say a larger, purpose-built conference and function building would enable a new owner to run many more weddings and functions than they can currently accommodate. They turn away many bookings each year because they can only offer smaller functions.

"People do get married outdoors in the vineyard itself, or in the farmers' market area, but it is weather dependent and very seasonal," says Maria Sunde.

"It's a really lovely rural location in the foothills of the Waitakere ranges and makes for great wedding photos among the grapevines."

She says there are many ways to increase the property's income.

"The farmers' market area is only used on Saturday mornings or for weddings, but space could be used for outdoor movies or food and wine festivals - like the very successful Dallies in the Valley event we ran two years in a row, 2012 and 2013.

"For concerts, there are grassy banks in the vineyard where people could take a picnic basket and buy their wine on site."

With both on and off premises fully licensed the Sundes are able to sell wine by the bottle or glass for consumption on or off the premises.

The Sundes bought the site as bare land in 2005 and planted the vineyard, producing their first vintage in 2007. Rex Sunde is a qualified viticulturist and worked for some years at Nobilo Wines in Huapai. They established a cellar door facility for wine tasting, then provided platters of finger food on request and finally opened the restaurant because of demand.

"People kept asking us to provide food with their wine and it went from there," Maria Sunde says.

The farmers' market was their next venture. It has a coffee shed and permanent stalls in a horseshoe with grassed area, offering 32 under-cover stalls. They also provide live music every Saturday morning.

The market was an instant success and runs summer and winter and has its regular followers as well as visitors.

"The first time we opened we estimated we had 5000 people and neither us, nor the stall holders were prepared," says Maria Sunde.

"Everything sold out in 15 minutes. These days it's steadier but it has proved very popular and all our stalls are occupied every week."

- NZ Herald

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