ODT Article: Keen yachtsman realises another dream

Posted by & filed under News, Press Releases.

the_new_owner_of_bald_hills_vineyard_isao_mita_cen_5517d5610dThe new owner of Bald Hills vineyard Isao Mita (centre), of Yokohama, Japan, toasts the future with Mita Holdings foreign division manager Hiroshi Kusu (left), ofYokohama, and vineyard manager Gary Crabbe.

Yachting and quality red wine are two of the passions of Bald Hills’ new owner, Japanese businessman Isao Mita.

Mr Mita was in Bannockburn at the weekend to have another look at his recently acquired vineyard and to learn more about the wine industry.

The 11ha property changed hands almost a fortnight ago. Former owners Blair and Estelle Hunt, who established Bald Hills, have shifted to the Kapiti Coast to be closer to family.

The sale was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) earlier this month. Mr Mita and Mita Holdings foreign division manager Hiroshi Kusu toured Bald Hills with their vineyard manager, Gary Crabbe, of Queenstown. Speaking through Mr Kusu as interpreter, Mr Mita said this was his first foray into viticulture.

”Central Otago has a very good reputation for pinot noir. It is the top region for pinot noir and it’s always been a dream and target to have a vineyard,” he said.

Mr Crabbe said Mr Mita, who was passionate about pinot noir, had an excellent palate. Japanese consumers enjoyed cabernet sauvignon but pinot noir was becoming more popular in that country.

Mr Mita said he respected what Mr and Mrs Hunt had achieved on the property and he planned to maintain the focus on high quality wine.

”That will be my first step, to try and keep that target, of making more high quality, premier wines.”

Expanding the crop was also on the agenda, with almost 2ha of new plantings of pinot noir planned, and he would keep searching for another property to add to the land in grapes, subject to OIO permission.

”A winery will be the final destination.”

”At the beginning, learning about the vineyard and wine making is the top priority but then, of course, later, the final destination would be a winery.”

Mr Mita is a keen sailor. He is the owner and helmsman of the Beecom and competes in yachting races around the world. http://www.baldhills.co.nz/2015/04/odt-article-keen-yachtsman-realises-another-dream/Many of his crew members are New Zealanders. When it was suggested New Zealand might welcome an investment by him in this country’s America’s Cup bid, Mr Mita just laughed.

Mr Crabbe said the former owners had left the vineyard in a ”beautiful condition” and the harvest would probably begin after Easter.

Catering for the domestic market and ”staying local” was the priority at this stage,”looking after the locals and the restaurant clients”, but as the next step, Mr Mita would look at some exports to Japan and other countries.

-lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz