An upgrade to the long-established Gibbston Valley Winery signals the start of an ambitious $300 million resort development near Queenstown.
The proposed growth at the winery and at Gibbston Valley Station, on both sides of State Highway 6, aims to maximise the area as a wine tourism destination, both for half and full-day trippers and also overnight guests.
Developments at the winery itself will be followed by the building of 16 nearby visitor cottages and construction of the first nine holes of an 18-hole golf course plus a driving range.
In the future, there’ll be the completion of the golf course, a vintners’ market, day spa, up to 95 visitor accommodation units, 13 homes plus continued grape and orchard planting – and possibly an equestrian course.
“It’s a big programme, if we could do it in eight years I’d be surprised,” Station boss Greg Hunt says.
The winery and 400-hectare Gibbston Valley Station have separate shareholdings, though both are majority-owned by American Phil Griffith, who won Overseas Investment Office approval for his development.
Hunt says the winery rejig will start late this year.
The wine-making facility will shift to a warehouse out the back to allow it to become the main cellar door with a mezzanine wine library.
Currently, the cellar door is near the front of the restaurant along with a gift shop, but in time the retail area will be relocated to three new buildings either side of the wine cave entrance.
The front of the restaurant will be turned into a delicatessen and bakery so all the winery’s food business will be in one building.
In another change, the building behind the cheesery will include a starter’s office and pro shop for the golf course as well as a reception area for the station.
The visitor accommodation will start next door with the winery cottages – 11 single-storeyed and five two storeyed.
Initially, a seven-room luxury lodge was consented for this area.
That’s been dropped due to changes in the tourism market and the growth of other local luxury lodges, Hunt says.
It’s proposed the cottages will be sold off in one-eighth or one-sixth fractional shares, making them more affordable.
They would only be occupied by owners or their guests under the concept of a private residency club, with owners also having a stake in a surrounding one-hectare vineyard.
That concept is new to New Zealand but popular in the United States, Hunt insists.
He expects to lodge a resource consent for the cottages in June.
Assuming consent is granted, construction would start in winter next year, as well as work on the golf course’s first nine holes.
Next year, a pedestrian underpass will also be built connecting the winery with the golf course’s first tee and the new Gibbston River Trail. A less definite timetable exists for future developments such as the vintners’ market, further accommodation and other activities including a day spa, all to the east of the winery.
Hunt says because there’s no bank debt, the station can develop in tandem with the market.
He is confident the new river trail, more cellar doors and these developments at Gibbston Valley Station will help double visitor numbers to the area in the coming years.