Members of the Nobilo wine family are scrambling to avoid the mortgagee sale of their West Auckland Waimarie Estate amid a dispute over trust assets.

The 62 hectare property that includes a modern equestrian complex, boutique vineyard, olive grove and grazing land, has been put up for sale at the behest of finance company FE Investments following a default on mortgage payments.

But Stephen Nobilo, who co-owns the property with wife Valarie, said today a last-minute refinancing deal had been struck with another lender and he expects that will halt the sale process.

Stephen is the eldest son of the late Nikola Nobilo, who founded Nobilo Wines after arriving in New Zealand from Lumbarda, Croatia, in 1937.


He said a family dispute between him and middle brother Nick was at the heart of the financial difficulty.

A court hearing is scheduled for April after Stephen last year filed a lawsuit in what is reported to be $4.5 million fight over trust assets.

In October, The Spinoff reported a Gisborne boutique winery Nick established called Vinoptima Estate went into receivership as relations between the brothers frayed.

Vinoptima has debts of around $15 million, the receiver's first report shows, far short of assets which are listed with a cost value of $9.2m, potentially meaning it will be unable to repay creditors and shareholders.

Stephen Nobilo confirmed to the Herald he is pursuing legal action against his brother but preferred not to comment further on the case.

He said FE Investments called in a mortgage on the Waimarie property on Muriwai Valley Rd and wasn't able to extend any additional time to arrange further finance.

"Fortunately for us we were able to sort it out at the eleventh hour and as soon as FE has been advised by our lawyer, it's my understanding the property will be off the market.

"We always knew we'd get in this situation but that's just business."


Marketing material describes the estate as a unique lifestyle and investment property set in the Muriwai Valley with stunning rural views and surrounded by native bush.

A modern, purpose-developed equestrian complex comes with a full-sized and floodlit Olympic dressage arena, stables, farm buildings along with a 1960s three-bedroom, weatherboard character bungalow.

The Nobilo family were largely responsible for breaking the New Zealand wine industry away from hybrid grape varieties and fortified wines, moving towards classic varietals.

Nick Nobilo snr began growing wine grapes in Huapai in 1943 and was known to pour the concrete for his cellar and make his own wine casks. He died in 2009.

In 1998 Nobilo Wines bought Selaks with brands that included Premium Selection and Founders Reserve. The group is now owned by global company Constellation Wines.