The heart of Gibbston Valley Winery will be transformed when
''a significant figure'' is invested in a new winemaking
facility, a highway underpass linking cycling trails, a hotel
and the first new planting of vines in Gibbston in years.
''Gibbston Valley is moving forward with production of more
quality grapes and introducing more tourism activities at the
winery,'' station and winery chief executive Greg Hunt, of
Wanaka, told the Otago Daily Times this week.
''We're now in a position of growth with the winery, which is
a positive thing, and that's because of the changes we've
made, the concert series and an improvement in the economy.''
The winemaking facility will move to a new and larger complex
within the winery in May this year, after the harvest in
April. It is expected to be finished in December.
The red barn next to the courtyard will become a second
cellar door and museum displaying the history of Gibbston and
it is also intended to be open for summer 2014-15.
An underpass linking trails either side of State Highway 6
through the valley will be built beneath the highway in
September this year.
The underpass will allow a safe and undisrupted trail direct
to the winery, once it is opened to the public, by December
Mr Hunt said the cost paid by the company ''is a significant
figure, but we see biking as becoming a major tourism
component for Queenstown, and being a winery, you look at
France and you look at Napa and there's the winery tours and
the riding of bikes and coming into the wineries for a glass.
''We see that as a growing market and that's why we're
putting in that underpass.''
The 30km of year-round beginner, intermediate and advanced
cycling trails known as Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort, on 400ha of
land next to the winery, opened in April last year.
The network will be enhanced by the next stage of
development, involving an extra 20km of trail linking Rabbit
Ridge back to the winery.
The winery itself will be consolidated as a base for visitors
cycling around cellar doors in the valley or Arrowtown, with
the addition of a new retail, rental, information and
activity booking outlet.
Visitor accommodation to encourage longer stays in the valley
has been on the drawing board, but will become a reality when
construction of stage one begins this winter. The first
guests were expected to check in during the summer of
2015-16, Mr Hunt said.
''We're re-evaluating the market a little bit and we're
aiming this as a four- to five-star hotel and we've got
consents for 50 rooms, but instead of building 50 rooms
straight away, we're going to build eight rooms which will be
adjacent to the winery, just to ensure we get the product
right and it gives us a chance to test it and then we'll
continue to build the balance of the rooms.''
Accommodation would suit cycling and wine fans and wine club
members who wanted to spend their holiday in the valley, as
well as patrons of the Gibbston Summer Concert, which
attracted more than 14,000 classic rock fans in February and
would return next year.
Jobs would be created from both the construction and
operation of the expansion. At least eight rostered staff
would be required for the outlet. The second cellar door,
museum and hotel would need hospitality workers.
Mr Hunt said the winery was now in a position where it had to
produce more wine to meet demand.
Just over 4ha of vacant land from Tom's Creek towards Glenlee
vineyard will be turned into a new vineyard to produce the
equivalent of 1500 extra cases of pinot noir.
Planting begins this spring and the first harvest will be in
2016. More station land around the new planting was expected
to be turned over to grape growing as demand increased, Mr
''This summer we'll be getting industrial activity out of the
centre of the winery by relocating the winemaking, putting
the underpass in, doing the second cellar door and museum and
getting the centre of the winery completed, then starting
work on the hotel and having that ready for the next