A huge fire has ‘devastated’ one of New Zealand’s most historic wineries, Vilagrad in Waikato, destroying parts of the cellar, kitchens and offices.

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The blaze broke out in the early hours of this morning (29 June) at the winery near Hamilton, damaging about 90% of the building, but leaving winemaking equipment mostly intact.

Owners the Nooyen family said in a posting on the Vilagrad website that they were ‘completely devastated’ by the blaze, but expressed their relief that nobody had been hurt in the fire.

Vilagrad, established by Croatian ex-pat Ivan Milicich Snr in 1922, is now in the hands of his great-grandsons, and combines winemaking with events, food and accommodation.

The Nooyens have cancelled plans for two mid-year ‘Christmas’ parties, but have pledged to rebuild, possibly using a mobile kitchen as refurbishment work continues.

Winemaker and co-owner Jacob Nooyen told the New Zealand Herald that he hoped to be back in business by about October, adding that the restaurant and most of the winery had been saved.

The most heartbreaking part was the loss of precious family photographs which were stored in the 100-year-old cellar, he added.

‘It’s pretty devastating for the family at the moment, but we are hard workers, we will get this place cleaned up and rebuilt,’ Nooyen said.