The $52 million purchase of Mt Difficulty Wines Ltd by Foley Family Wines has been approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

Foley Family Wines is majority owned by United States-based Bill Foley, who also owns other New Zealand vineyards including Martinborough Vineyard, Te Kairanga Vineyard and Grove Mill Winery.

A statement from Land and Information New Zealand last week said the purchase included about 70ha of freehold land and about 110ha of leasehold land at the Bannockburn vineyard.

Foley Family Wines' application took about eight and a-half months to process, during which time a "robust assessment'' was done to ensure the investment would provide "substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand'', the Linz statement said.


These were addressed by Foley Family Wines before consent was granted, the statement said.

"Foley Family Wines plans to leverage its networks to increase exports of Mt Difficulty wines by cross-marketing with its existing labels.

"It will continue Mt Difficulty's plans to expand the Mt Difficulty vineyard restaurant and cellar door, develop a restaurant and a barrel facility at Te Kairanga Vineyard in Martinborough, and upgrade its Grove Mill Winery to increase production capacity.

The investment will result in nine new jobs, mostly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough.''

The Otago Daily Times reported last month the original $55 million sale price for Mt Difficulty was reduced to $52 million in exchange for Foley investing up to $3 million to expand Mt Difficulty's cellar door operation and restaurant.