Historic New Zealand Winery
Te Kauwhata is a small North Waikato village which lies in a valley 2 kilmetres east of State Highway 1 about halfway between Auckland and Hamilton. The village has a very early relationship with wine production in New Zealand.
About half a kilometer to the west of the village, nestled into the side of a hill and facing to the east, is a significant historic New Zealand winery which is now owned by TK Vintners Limited.
An extract from the website of Rongopai Wines states:
“The building on this site was first constructed by the New Zealand government in 1902, as New Zealand’s first viticultural research station. The aim of the research facility, which was headed by pioneer Romeo Bragato, was to understand New Zealand’s soil and to implement a programme to establish varieties that would thrive in the diverse climatic conditions. This same site where Romeo’s groundbreaking work took place was used as Rongopai’s winery from 1932 to 2007. The building has been restored with extensive renovations and modern upgrades, however much of the building’s original features are maintained, and as the building is rated ’Class A Historical’ it will remain standing for many years.”
This image was taken yesterday morning during a detour from a day trip to Hamilton. Over the years I have often heard the winery referred to and was always surprised to learn of the NZ Government’s early involvement (late 19th century) in the wine industry. It appears though that this interest waned during the Temperance period of the early 20th century. The tall square building in the centre-left of the image houses an old alcohol still and its associated coal-fired boiler, neither of which are still in use.