Long-established Japanese brewer, Nishi Sake, has won Overseas Investment Office approval to buy Wairarapa vineyard, Urlar Farms, for $8.75 million.

According to its application, Nishi Sake is a family company which has specialised in distilled beverage production for eight generations.

Nishi Sake had recently expanded its product offering to include sake, bottled water and other Japanese soda drinks and now wishes to further expand to add New Zealand wine.

"The applicant believes that with its strong beverage distribution network in Japan, (which gives them access to a substantial number of restaurant clients), it can make Urlar Estate a well known and premium brand both in New Zealand and overseas," the OIO application said.


Nishi said likely benefits from the Investment included a 50 per cent increase in staffing at the vineyard, the additional funds for development for a new barrel room and cellar door and a five-fold increase in export receipts generated from the Investment within the next 5 years.

The OIO gave Nishi approval in December and the sale was settled just before Christmas.

Mike Laven of Colliers International, who brokered the sale, said Nishi planned to develop the Urlar brand and that the company managed to "tick all the boxes" with the OIO for the type of overseas investor required by the wine sector.

Urlar was established in 2004 when Angus and Davina Thomson, who planted 30 hectares of vineyards on Dakins Road, Carterton, in pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and riesling.

The company now exports about 75 per cent of its wines.

Nishi Sake Brewing was established by the Nishi family in 1845 and is now in its eighth generation of brewers. -- Jamie Gray