The 8.3-hectare Waiheke Island Tantalus Estate vineyard and winery has been put up for sale, with its owner saying the last few years have been very difficult.
Bruce Aitken, the majority shareholder in the business, said although the rating valuation was $7 million, the property was worth substantially more than that.
“The rating doesn’t capture the existence of new and improved buildings,” he said.
The winery restaurant, which can seat around 150 people, opened in 2016 and since then has hosted around 20 weddings annually.
The business was being sold as a going concern, and Aitken expects the 70 staff employed in full and part-time roles will continue working there.
“I can’t imagine any buyer wouldn’t want to continue employing all the staff,” he said.
Covid, shut borders, a lack of customers and a lack of sales were all factors that had all taken tolls, along with pay rises and the constant minimum wage rises.
“It’s a difficult decision to sell. We’ve been at it for 10 years and put our hearts and souls into it. It’s been an all-embracing business. Covid and the knock-on effects with the hospitality sector have been difficult for all of us. We’ve sat back and asked if this is what we want to do, or [if] want to sell to someone who can take it to the next level. We’re looking for people who can see a vision and a future for it,” he said.
The vineyard is at 70-72 Onetangi Rd.
In June 2021, Auckland Council valued the 961sq m property at 70 Onetangi Rd at $950,000 and 72 Onetangi Rd at $6.1m. The total valuation was around $7m for rating purposes.
He and Donna’s son Campbell, with his wife Carrie, “have been the face of the business for all those 10 years”. Aitken said he had taken a back seat “because we wanted the kids to be the face of the company, and that’s what they achieved”.
Aitken said he was confident the family “would find something else to do”.
Carrie Aitken migrated here from Canada in 2012, Aitken said. There were no family reasons behind the sale.
The vendor of the property is Tantalus, which is 80 per cent owned by Tuperiri Trustees - Campbell and Carrie Aitken each own 10 per cent.
In April, Poderi Crisci went up for sale on the island.
Asked if Tantalus makes a profit, Aitken indicated it does not. But he said the last three months had shown signs of recovery and bookings for Christmas and New Year’s indicated strong trading conditions ahead.
“I have an expectation that the company will be very profitable,” he said.
Corporate events had been strong at the vineyard.
The property has a winery producing Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines, a boutique craft beer brewery, a lounge bar and a 160-seat restaurant.
Wines from the vineyard in the restaurant were about $120 a bottle.
The next tier was in the $60-a-bottle wines.
The vineyard has produced up to 35,000 bottles of wine a year, but that could fall to around 15,000 bottles a year and “was very weather-dependent”.
Most of the wine was sold in the restaurant at Waiheke, but wine from the vineyard was also sold to other restaurants, including Commercial Bay’s Ahi and Britomart’s Mr. Morris.
Some online sales were also made directly via the winery website.
Vines were planted at Tantalus in the late 1980s, but much of those had been replaced and the wine was made on the property, Aitken said.
Asked why he’s selling when interest rates are high, he said he hoped interested parties will share a passion for wine as well as the business and would be motivated to buy.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.