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Gravitas bids hit $2 million, negotiations under way

Marlborough vineyard Gravitas (in receivership) failed to sell at last Friday's auction but talks are continuing with potential buyers.Wine property specialist John Hoare told NBR NZPI that the final bid had been about $2 million, which was quite a relief

Chris Hutching
Tue, 28 Sep 2010

Marlborough vineyard Gravitas (in receivership) failed to sell at last Friday’s auction but talks are continuing with potential buyers.

Wine property specialist John Hoare told NBR NZPI that the final bid had been about $2 million, which was quite a relief to some of the 77 wine growers at the auction because it set land prices at about $100,000/ha (compared with the previous highs of about $250,000/ha.

The 23ha operation in Wairau Valley is planted in a range of grape varieties – including sauvignon blanc (7.7ha), chardonnay (4ha), pinot noir (6ha) and riesling (1ha).

Mr Hoare said values have eased considerably from the heights of yesteryear at $250,000/ha.

Gravitas is in the wine-producing neighbourhood of Oyster Bay, Nautilus, Pernod Ricard and Clos Henri. The Gravitas label was founded in 1993 by ex-banker Martyn Nicholls, who remains listed in Companies Office records as director and shareholder. Gravitas was placed with receivers David Ruscoe and Richard Simpson of Grant Thornton in June.

The property includes two dwellings – a 147m2 three-bedroom home with a swimming pool, and a 69m2 two-bedroom cottage. There are also work sheds including a storage unit and office, implement shed, workshop, chemical storage area, and utility shed. The plant and machinery for managing vines is also available for purchase as well as a quantity of Gravitas wine, some of it already bottled, and some still in the barrel.

A separate 16ha lifestyle property owned by Gravitas was sold at the auction for $260,000 to a local buyer.

It has 4ha already staked out and irrigated with three dams in preparation for vine planting, and also has 7ha of juvenile pine forests for potential future harvesting.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Winegrowers reports the total vintage for 2010 is 266,000 tonnes, 7% lower than in 2009. However, export volumes rose 27% and broke the $1 billion barrier. It was unclear how much of the reduction from forecasts had been a result of climate and how much the result of management restrictions on harvests to cope with over supply. In Marlborough, the vintage was down 5%, with production of sauvignon blanc 4% lower than in 2009.

The Hawke’s Bay crop was also down 5%, while the harvest in Gisborne reduced 21%. In Central Otago production was unchanged on 2009, but in Waipara, Canterbury and Northland the harvest was larger this year.

Smaller vintages were recorded in Auckland, Waikato, Wairarapa and Nelson. Sauvignon blanc accounts for around 85% of all exported wine. The average value of bottled wine exports declined 11% to $8.77 a bottle while bulk wine decreased more sharply, down 17% to $7.33.

Chris Hutching
Tue, 28 Sep 2010
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Gravitas bids hit $2 million, negotiations under way
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