Craggy Range Vineyards has been given a green light to buy 132 hectares of land in the Wairarapa for $3.6 million.
The purchase will let the Australian-owned company expand its existing Martinborough vineyard, which is about a kilometre away, the Overseas Investment Office said.
The site is currently undeveloped and "because the land would otherwise be used as bare grazing land, the investment is likely to result in much of the land being converted to a higher, more productive use," the OIO said in a summary of its decision.
Craggy Range will plant grape vines and build a water storage dam. The investment is also expected to result in 20 new seasonal and permanent job opportunities to develop and operate the vineyard and will increase New Zealand's wine export revenue.
New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.7 billion in the 12 months to June and wine is the country’s fifth largest export. A total of 419,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested during vintage 2018, up 6 percent on the prior year, according to New Zealand Winegrowers. The bulk of the harvest takes place from February to April, although some areas are still harvesting in June.
"These benefits relate to factors of high relative importance under the current Ministerial Directive letter," it said. Last November the government issued a new Directive Letter to the Overseas Investment Office that meant foreign buyers of rural land face tougher requirements to provide additional benefits to the New Zealand economy.
Craggy Range has previously invested more than $150 million in the New Zealand wine industry, planted more than 250 hectares of vines, and employs about 80 staff across the country.
It has a 102-hectare vineyard at Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay as well as vineyards in Martinborough and Marlborough. The Martinborough vineyard produces pinot noir and sauvignon blanc grapes.