“New Jersey champagne” might sound like a sarcastic joke, but it’s really a thing, and the winery that invented it filed for Chapter 11 Thursday.
Renault Winery Inc. became so prominent among New Jerseyans for its champagne and other wines, in fact, that it earned Egg Harbor City, N.J. the unlikely nickname of “Wine City,” despite a very un-Napa like location 20 miles from Atlantic City.
By filing bankruptcy, Renault—which also runs a 50-room resort, two restaurants and a 7,200-yard golf course—narrowly escaped a scheduled sheriff’s sale Thursday brought on by a foreclosure by lender Ocean First Bank.
In Chapter 11, Renault plans to keep operating, and LivingSocial Inc. even emailed customers a discounted offer for a one- or two-night stay at Renault on Friday afternoon, with a “limited time extra discount” for those who clicked immediately.
Renault operating chief Dennis Del Vecchio in court papers blamed the bankruptcy on bad investment advice from a prior manager, who allegedly urged the company not to pay its mortgage or taxes while it sought a sale of the company. That sale falling through, and Hurricane Sandy ravaging the Jersey Shore and temporarily closing Renault, put the company on a path that eventually led to Chapter 11, Mr. Del Vecchio said.
Renault, the oldest winery in New Jersey, has had to reinvent its business before.