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The fact the Mills Reef building will be put to good use makes it easier to leave, says the winery’s director Tim Preston on the eve of departure.

Mills Reef is in the process of relocating to Leveret Estate (formerly Morton Estate) on the outskirts of Katikati.

Wine tasting and sales will cease at the picturesque Bethlehem site after Sunday December 22, and the restaurant closed its doors last Sunday, December 15.

“When we had it built, we didn’t realise it would become an iconic landmark. We think it’s fantastic it is being retained,” Tim says.

Described as an art deco-styled winery and event space featuring a tasting room, upscale dining and verdant grounds, Mills Reef will become “The Vines Clubhouse”.

The site is already being developed into a lifestyle retirement village and the Mills Reef building will eventually become the village’s clubhouse.

A total of 100 villas have already been constructed in the first stages of the village’s development, with another 96 still to be constructed.

“It’s a fantastic result that the people of the village will get years of pleasure from it,” says Tim, whose family created the winery on the 12-hectare site back in the 1990s.

The land was bought by Classic Group and Kauri Investments Limited, with the partnership focusing on creating a high-quality retirement village. Work began on site back in 2016.

Classic Group director Peter Cooney says The Vines was developed with a gold class lifestyle in mind, so it was apt that its clubhouse would be “such a gem of a building”.

The building will be extended and will include an indoor swimming pool and spa, auditorium, theatre, library, gym, lounge areas (including a pool table lounge), resident workshop, arts and craft room, bowling green, hairdressing and wellness spaces, and a community garden. There will also be allocated spaces for RV and boat parking.

Peter says completion of the clubhouse is forecast for 2021 and when finished will encompass over 2000sqm.

He acknowledges that with the retention of the Mills Reef building comes the retention of memories. Many people had celebrated there over the building’s 25-year history.

The fact the building would live on meant there was scope for more great memories to be created, he says.

“We are also paying homage to the winery’s history on this site through naming the lifestyle village The Vines. Street names also follow the winery theme.”

Meanwhile, Tim says it’s business as usual for Mills Reef, just at a different venue – namely Leveret Estate, on State Highway 2 about five kilometres south of Katikati.

He says the opportunity to team up with Leveret Estate, sharing winemaking facilities, the cellar door, and creating a Bay of Plenty ‘wine destination hub’ was exciting.

Wine lovers will be able to continue discovering and enjoying the Mills Reef wines – just at a Katikati, rather than Bethlehem, site.

And the Mills Reef brand will continue to source its grapes from the Hawke’s Bay region, with the winemaking from 2020 season onward being completed at the Katikati site.

“There’s the opportunity to source grapes from vineyards currently owned by Leveret Estate as well as our existing vineyards. We look forward to that evolving in time, and look forward to working together on the whole,” Tim says.

The Vines lifestyle village is now a community, thriving with residents who are excited to see their Clubhouse come to life next year.