Renault Winery Resort and Golf, the sprawling vineyard-golf resort-restaurant that straddles Egg Harbor City and Galloway Township, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday.
Chief Operating Officer Dennis Del Vecchio said the resort will remain open while it finds a stable financial footing in bankruptcy.
Renault’s winery, among the oldest continuously operating in the United States, was founded in 1864 by a French vintner fleeing an aphid infestation that savaged France’s vineyards, the company says.
The winery continued operating during prohibition under a special permit allowing for the production of wines for religious and medical purposes, according to the company. Egg Harbor City became known as “Wine City” on the strength of Renault.
“We have been here for 150 years, and our plan will ensure us being here long into the future,” Del Vecchio said Thursday. “We’re not looking to sell the place. We’re looking to continue the legacy here.”
The resort had been scheduled by Renault’s main creditor and mortgagee, OceanFirst Bank, for a sheriff’s sale auction in October that was adjourned until Thursday. The sale was canceled on account of the bankruptcy. The Toms River-based bank did not return a call for comment.
“It’s in everybody’s interest that they work with us,” Del Vecchio said. “What we have before us is very workable.” He said the resort employs as many as 150 people during the summer.
James Schroeder, president of the Greater Egg Harbor City Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday’s filing “breaks my heart.”
The resort, he said, is “an economic driver” and “a property that people want to go to.”
“I think it’s a sound property,” he said. “I just think that the economy is dragging a lot of people under.”
Early this year the resort’s management said a New Jersey-based buyer had been found for the property, which was expanded under owner Joseph Milza, who bought the winery in 1977.
The 50-room Tuscany House hotel was added in 2001 and the 18-hole Vineyard Golf course in 2004.
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