Following the success of Wooing Tree Vineyard, owners Steve and Thea Farquharson are applying the same innovative, forward-thinking approach to develop the Wooing Tree Estate. With this move in a new direction they hope to not only transform their business, but also help Cromwell to grow as a hub of tourism.
Those familiar with the Wooing Tree Vineyard will know that it lies on the very outskirts of Cromwell. When they first purchased their land, there was little around them, but, over the years the town has grown and expanded, and they now find themselves virtually in the middle of town, says Steve; which led them into thinking about how the land was being used, and what it could be in the future.
“We decided to re-zone the land – to develop a boutique vineyard estate, offering opportunities for a mix of premium residential homes and selected hospitality and retail, designed to support the local wine and tourism industry."
“We’ve put a lot of work into the Wooing Tree brand. We don’t want to lose that either, so there will still be quite a significant vineyard around the outside of the development."
We also didn’t want to lose our location so close to Cromwell, or the Wooing Tree itself,” he says. “The Wooing Tree is the iconic symbol of the brand, and forms an important part of the history and folklore of the town of Cromwell – as such, it is going to be the focal point of the new development. We will create pathways to it, and it will be surrounded by grassed area, giving the tree pride of place at the centre of the new development.”
The site on which the vineyard sits is one of the best vineyard locations in the whole of Central Otago for visibility and accessibility, bounded by State Highway 6 that connects Queenstown with Wanaka, and State Highway 8B, the main artery that connects the entire region with Christchurch to the north and Dunedin to the east. Its location couldn’t be better.
With its two illustrious neighbours, Queenstown and Wanaka, becoming expensive and congested, Cromwell is experiencing unprecedented growth and is set to become a destination in its own right – especially given popularity of the local Bannockburn wine region and the Highlands Motorsport Park, plus the linking up of the region’s two main cycle trails – the extension of the Otago Rail trail from Clyde, and the new trail through the Kawarau Gorge, connecting the Gibbston Valley and Queenstown.
“There are huge opportunities on the horizon, and our proposed development will satisfy and fulfil those needs in every way. What we have in mind are businesses like cheeseries, fruit shops, bike shops, breweries, restaurants and cafés – things that compliment our cellar door and brand,” says Steve.
“We are only going to get once chance to do this, so it’s very important for us – and for the future of whole town – that we do it right.”
“Things that will attract visitors to Cromwell and, once they get here, hold them here. Currently, they make Queenstown their base and venture out from there. We want to create a destination that makes them want to stay here in Cromwell,” adds Thea. “We will be one or two day’s ride out of Queenstown and Wanaka, and one day out of Clyde. People will want to have somewhere to stay, eat food, re-fuel and generally kick back. There’s a huge opportunity there.”
“It would have been easy for us to have gone for full residential, but we fought to have some of the land zoned as commercial, so that we can create those places of interest needed to attract tourists to the town,” says Steve.
Being equidistant from Queenstown and Wanaka and guarding the main gateway from Dunedin and Christchurch, makes Cromwell the most accessible centre in the region – and the closest town to all the vineyards, all the ski fields, and all wonderful outdoor scenery and activities Central Otago has to offer.
To help the Farquharsons see their plans come to fruition, Steve has put together a team of like-minded individuals and formed a joint venture with investment specialists, Crawshaw Properties Limited and Tauranga-based Veros Property as the development manager.
Veros Property has led numerous successful residential and commercial projects around New Zealand, including extensive subdivisions, retail and education facilities and apartment complexes. “This will be quite a special project and therefore it was paramount for us to partner with a development manager that has the experience, knowledge and expertise required and, importantly, shares our vision for the future of Cromwell.”
“We are very excited to be managing the development of Wooing Tree Vineyard Estate,” says Veros Property senior development manager Sean Haynes. “We have pulled together an experienced investment and development team from Tauranga and the necessary equity funds to deliver a quality project.
'Wooing Tree will still be producing our exceptional-quality wines from our own grapes, as well as supplementary grapes from local growers.”
“We will be retaining the vineyard identity of the land – some vines will be removed progressively as the residential stages are developed but we will retain the vines as a buffer zone around the site,” Haynes says. “The Wooing Tree brand, vines and cellar door will remain a key point of difference and we will deliver a high-quality residential precinct that Cromwell will be really proud of.”
With the move to get out of the big cities and head to a lifestyle destination, this new neighbourhood has attracted the interest of families from across the country as well as from expats and retirees. “The Wooing Tree Estate will be a great place to bring up kids, live and work from home remotely or retire in,” says Haynes. “This will be a special neighbourhood, surrounded by vines, green lanes and open space, and where the kids can walk to school. Where you can take a walk around the lake, go water skiing or fishing, climb a mountain, ride a mountain bike – then go out to one of a multitude of local restaurants or vineyards for dinner. It’s all right on your doorstep.”