One of the region’s oldest and most popular wineries and cellar doors has closed its doors to the public and is being mothballed for the foreseeable future.
Ransom Wines in Valerie Close, just south of Warkworth, is in the process of being sold and the new buyer, Auckland lawyer Bill Endean, decided to cease trading from last Sunday, April 29.
The move was unexpected and came as a shock to management and customers alike when cellar door manager Rachel Macfarlane made the announcement on Ransom Wines’ Facebook page on April 22.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce, on the 29th April, 2018, Ransom winery will be closing its doors. I know many of you will be devastated by this news and have been long-time supporters,” she wrote. Hundreds of people have since expressed their sadness and disappointment at the news, with many praising Ransom for its lunch platters, wines and setting.
Ransom Wines vineyard was planted in 1993 by Robin and Marion Ransom and the first wines were made in 1996. They officially retired in 2016, when the business was sold to North Shore couple Bella Bi and Tony Yan, although the family connection was maintained with their son, Gabriel, carrying on as winemaker and Marion’s brother, Rob Pinder, continuing as
The business and land is now being sold to Bill Endean, who also owns adjoining land in Valerie Close. He said the cellar door was closing to allow him to take possession of the property and take stock of the operation.
“We’re going to review the operation of the place. It’s not viable in winter time, it’s a bit of a struggle,” he said. “The premises also are a little bit constrained in terms of their size. We’re going to look at what improvements might be made, then offer it to another tenant, for lease.”
Mr Endean said the operation had been offered to the present winemaker and manager, but they declined to take up a lease offer.
“We’re going to reassess the situation. It’s not until we take possession can we get a good gauge of how to improve it, to make it a better offer to the public,” he said. “No decision has been made about the way forward.”
Ransom Wines and the land surrounding it falls within the Warkworth South zone earmarked for future urban growth in the Auckland Unitary Plan, where up to 3700 houses and a ‘local centre’ could be built when the land is released for development after 2028. When asked if he would be developing the land, Mr Endean said, “We’ll see. It’s 10 years away.”
He added that in the meantime, he would find someone who wanted to carry on cultivating the grapes and that he had someone to look after the wines in tanks and barrels that were yet to be bottled.
Ransom Wines founder Robin Ransom said that although he and Marion were no longer closely involved with the business, the sudden closure had come as a shock.
“There has been an outpouring of comments expressing sadness and dismay,” he said. “Can we take this opportunity to express our thanks to all of our wonderful customers and fantastic vineyard and wine bar staff over the years, and our deep regrets that Ransom Wines is closing.”
Meanwhile, another local winery, Ascension Wines in Matakana Road, is scaling down its operations over winter. There will be no small functions held and the restaurant will be closed from now until November. The cellar door will remain open daily, however.