Matakana’s Ascension hospitality operations for lease

8:18 PM Friday March 22, 2019 Paul Charman

Ascension Wine Estate is on a high-profile corner leading into Matakana Valley. Photo / Supplied

A pioneering winery restaurant, function centre and concert venue are for lease at the gateway to Auckland’s northern coastal playground.

The hospitality operation up for lease sits within Ascension Wine Estate, at Matakana.

Ascension’s food and beverage operations — but not the associated vineyard or winery entities — can now be leased, by negotiation, through Bayleys Real Estate.

Salespeople Carolyn Hanson and Mike Peterson say this will allow Ascension’s owners to concentrate on the viticulture side of the business.

Peterson says Ascension Wine Estate was established in 1996 — with the 220-seat Spanish-styled restaurant-function complex added in 2000.

Built the style of Luis Obispo, the famous Mission in California’s central coastal region, the venue helped pave the way for Matakana to become what it is today — a popular hospitality and domestic tourism destination for Aucklanders seeking a day out.

Burgeoning visitor numbers drawn to the area assisted refurbishment and modernisation of the Matakana Village, plus the establishment of multiple boutique accommodation venues in the area.

“As a preeminent ‘winery tour’ music concert venue, Ascension Wine Estate has hosted artists such as The Hollies, Jimmy Barnes, Solo Mio, Toni Childs, The Irish Rovers and Dragon,” Peterson points out.

“Its hospitality venues sit within 7.6ha of land, on a high-profile corner leading into Matakana Valley; the property has 4ha planted in vines, surrounded by mature gardens and lawns.”

Hanson says terms and conditions of the business lease will be open for negotiation with any interested parties. The venue’s 710sq m fully air-conditioned function centre, The Belfry, can be configured into multiple spaces with the potential to host up to 300 guests in various seating styles.

“The opportunity at Ascension would suit a food and beverage operator with experience in marketing and business development — to reinvigorate Ascension’s standing in the wider Matakana and Auckland regional hospitality scene,” Hanson says.

Within The Belfry area is a VIP dining room suitable for intimate dining occasions of up to 20 people, while the venue’s main restaurant — a four-time Hospitality NZ Award winner — is licensed to serve up to 200 guests in indoor and alfresco courtyard areas. These are serviced by a full commercial-grade kitchen encompassing walk-in chiller/freezer units, combi’ ovens, gas hobs, deep fryers, substantial stainless steel food preparation benching, and crockery washing/cleaning equipment, Hanson says.

“The lease will also include the right to operate Ascension’s cellar door tasting facility located at the entry to the restaurant and function areas,” she adds.

“The venue operates all-year round — catering to walk-in diners throughout the week, with a strong corporate trade mid-week for small conferences, and weddings on most Saturdays. In summer, these sectors run at near 100 percent capacity. The business is being leased with a robust number of wedding reservations booked right through until this time next year.”

Hanson says the opportunity for any new operator is to reinvigorate the once hugely popular winery concert and show business.

“Matakana’s closeness to Auckland — combined with the high number of commercial accommodation options and holiday homes in the immediate vicinity — makes it the perfect weekend break destination,” she says.

While the country’s winery tour circuit includes Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Queenstown; Matakana remains the favourite wine growing area north of the harbour bridge.

A market remains for events there drawing crowds of up to 3000, say the agents. Ascension’s hospitality activities employ eight fulltime-equivalent staff, with additional part-time service staff taken on during functions. The total staffing complement swells to 30 employees over the Christmas/New Year holiday period — making it one of the biggest food and beverage employers in the Rodney region.