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Invivo expands production with acquisition of historic New Zealand winery

Published:  03 February, 2016

New Zealand winemaker Invivo has secured a long-term lease on a 114-year-old winery originally operated by New Zealand wine pioneer Romeo Bragato.

The winery, which is situated to the south of Auckland, is listed by the Historic Places Trust. Itwas built by the government in 1902 as the country's first viticulture research station.

In 1908, Bragato became the first New Zealand winemaker to win awards in an international competition, picking up five gold medals for his wines at the Franco-British Exhibition in London.

Tim Lightbourne, co-founder of Invivo, said: "It's exciting to be taking over the place where Romeo Bragato made some of New Zealand's first export wines.

This is a piece of Southern Hemisphere wine history, so it's great that we can continue the winemaking story there and it won't be used for any other means or property developments."

The winery's copper still dates back to World War II, when it was used to make medicinal alcohol.

Ownership of the winery transferred to Rongopai wines in the 1990s. More recently, it has been used as a contract winemaking and bottling facility and its winemaking and bottling equipment modernised.

Invivo buys historic New Zealand winery

It currently has the capacity to bottle some 12,000 bottles daily, but Invivo expect to expand production at the site further.

Rob Cameron, Invivo's winemaker, said: "We plan to respect the historic features and history of the winery but also add extra capacity to support our growth plans.

"We are honoured to keep this historic winery operating and continue the legacy, when otherwise it would've had to close its doors."

Invivo made headlines last year with its Graham Norton's Own 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, developed in partnership with the BBC talk show host.

Sold exclusively through Majestic in the UK, the wine sold some 144,000 bottles in its first six weeks.

Invivo is currently working with Norton on a 2016 release, which will be among the first wines to be made and bottled at the new winery.