Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Acclaimed Waiheke vineyard for sale

Te Whau Vineyard has 10,000 vines, stunning views, a restaurant, winery and an international reputation. Photo / Supplied
Te Whau Vineyard has 10,000 vines, stunning views, a restaurant, winery and an international reputation. Photo / Supplied

A feature on the Auckland visitors' wine trail - Te Whau Vineyard, on Waiheke Island - is being offered for sale by the owners who established it on an old sheep farm in 1993.

Perched on a headland of vines and bush, its distinctive winery and cafe building has views over the Hauraki Gulf and has been a favourite with overseas VIPs from actor Sean Connery to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Tony Forsyth, who owns the business with his wife, Moira, and sister Caroline Forsyth, said yesterday he had really enjoyed the business and it had been more than successful.

"We had two goals - to develop a good restaurant and make nice wine."

But he is turning 60 next year and decided it is time for a new phase in his life.

Mr Forsyth was managing director of human resources firm Sheffield Consulting when he bought the "piece of dirt" in 1993.

More than $2.5 million was spent on developing it - done in weekends for eight years while keeping his day job. "It would cost far more than that to do now," he said.

Helping to plant the 10,000 vines was Steve Hood, who is still vineyard manager and is described as a "magician" for getting results from soil which, though unproductive for farming, had the advantage for organic grape growing of being untouched by chemicals.

The first release of wine was in 2000 and the vineyard was the first to come under the Sustainable Viticulture wing of Winegrowers New Zealand.

Briton Hugh Johnson, reputed to be the world's best-selling wine writer, named it one of his favourite 200 wineries globally.

The food side of the business started in 2001 and Wine International magazine named it as one of the finest vineyard restaurants anywhere.

Mr Forsyth said the business had huge potential to develop further - the restaurant opened for only three days a week in winter, was not a wedding venue and the wine had not been exported. He thought the "stunning site" with its own beach, 50 minutes from downtown Auckland, would also make a "fantastic lodge".

"Today we are flat out, with 70 per cent of guests from Ireland or Australia, and we have huge bookings for the next four or five weeks from people from all over the world."

Bayleys real estate agency said the 8.7 ha estate was being sold by international tender which would close on November 9 - unless sold before.

- NZ Herald

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