Van Asch winery prunes staff

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Local business magnate Henry van Asch has cut costs at his Gibbston-based wine company as export markets go into freefall.

High Plains Wine Co – best known for its Van Asch and Freefall labels – has made wine manager Tim Morrison-Deaker redundant, put sales staff on commission and chopped the contracted roles of general manager and accounts administrator.

Van Asch, a co-founder and co-owner of AJ Hackett Bungy, says he’s taking a more active role in the wine company and has split it off from his Gibbston winery restaurant, The Winehouse & Kitchen. Morrison-Deaker, 35, who’s been with High Plains since it launched almost five years ago, says he wasn’t shocked to be laid off as export sales have plummeted since April last year.

“I don’t know [if] there are many wine companies in Central Otago having a very good time but you could say the same about any industry, particularly a manufacturer that relies on exporting.”

Morrison-Deaker will concentrate on his own label, Partisan, and vineyard contracting business while rebuilding the wine consultancy he had before joining High Plains.