From there we went to the Wrekin Road Vineyard, a new site where grapes for Fromm Wines are sourced. The vineyard owner/viticulturalist spoke about the unique properties of this site in particular for Pinot Noir while we tasted the 2017 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir and a barrel sample of the 2017 Fromm Vineyard Pinot Noir on the hillside overlooking the vineyards and dam.
We also had an opportunity for a quick roadside stop to view the Clayvin Vineyard, on the way to the next vineyard.
The Brookby Road vineyard was the next stop where the Pinot Noir for Huia is grown. Both Fromm and Huia are well known for their biodynamic practices and are part of the Mana Group, which is a collective of Marlborough organic wine growers. Claire and Mike Allan, owners and both winemakers spoke to us about their philosophy for growing and making Pinot Noir. We tried the 2014 Huia Pinot Noir and 2006 Huia Pinot Noir.
At the next stop, we were all pretty excited to see a Burleigh Pies truck and tucked in to some of these delicious pies, along with some nice cold beer. Just what you need after a morning of wine tasting.
Feeling very contented, we continued our trek to the Clay Hills Vineyard for a tasting of the 2015 Nautilus Southern Valleys Pinot Noir and 2015 Nautilus Clay Hills Single Vineyard Pinot Noir. While we were tasting, Clive Jones, Winemaker for Nautilus spoke about the clay soils which we could clearly see in the banks around the dam on the property. Nautilus was the first winery in the Southern Hemisphere to build a facility dedicated exclusively to the production of Pinot Noir.
Finishing up our time in the vineyards, we did a short trek to stand on a hill overlooking the Delta Vineyard for a tasting of Saint Clair Pinot Noir with Hamish Clark, Senior Winemaker. Specifically we tried the 2015 Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2015 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 15 Strip Block Pinot Noir. Saint Clair is the largest of our Marlborough agencies and has many vineyards in the Marlborough area.
We then drove out to Avon Valley Lodge where we competed in some clay bird shooting and long-range sniper shooting and also had the opportunity to taste through some of the other varietals produced by our Marlborough principals. After the lodge, we finished the day with an excellent meal and more wine in magnums at Arbour Restaurant.
Cheviot – home of Mt Beautiful Wines
Mt Beautiful Vineyard
The next stop on our South Island tour was Cheviot and Mt Beautiful Wines. We hopped onto a bus late afternoon in Renwick, Marlborough and made our way down through Kaikoura to Two Rivers Café where we had dinner with the Mt Beautiful crew. Two Rivers Café is owned by Mt Beautiful and they also have their cellar door located within the same building. As there are no existing large hotels in Cheviot, we spent the night at Gore Bay in different holiday homes.
The next morning, we headed to Mt Beautiful and began our visit with a quick and tasty breakfast of bacon and egg rolls with coffee. We then had a tour of the winery which was built in 2015. David Teece is the owner of Mt Beautiful and he is well known for being a collector of vehicles. For our tour of the vineyard, we boarded two Landrover 101s with Garrick Guy and Finn Grieve, both Viticulturalists, who spoke about the unique and sprawling property. The weather was wet and miserable, so we were really pleased to have such comfortable and rugged vehicles for the trip. We then had a tasting of the full range with Sam Weaver and Ben Weaver, father and son winemakers for Mt Beautiful, along with some new vintage barrel and tank samples and a couple of experimental wines which made for a very interesting tasting.
Two Paddocks Fusilier Vineyard
We were then back on the bus and heading to Christchurch airport for an early afternoon flight to Queenstown where we headed directly to Two Paddocks at their Red Bank Vineyard located in Earnscleugh, Alexandra. Two Paddocks is a farm with vineyards, orchards, gardens and a collection of animals. Mike Wing, Viticulturalist and Jacqui Murphy, General Manager for Two Paddocks gave us a tour of the farm. We passed by the dam with Jemima the duck, fed some apples to Angelica the pig and viewed the lavender press before stopping at the feather sculpture on a small hill overlooking the property. Here we had a glass of the newly released 2017 Two Paddocks Riesling, which was the perfect aperitif in the cooling temperatures of the late afternoon. We then headed back to the cellar door, past the fields of sheep and cows (all of them have names) for a seated tasting and dinner with Sam Neill, Actor and Proprietor of Two Paddocks wines. Sam often updates his followers on Twitter @TwoPaddocks with stories about the animals and happenings at Two Paddocks.
NNZ at Two Paddocks
The next morning, our first stop was for the morning huddle at Rippon with Nick and Jo Mills and their crew. We walked through the vineyards with Nick up to an area outside the cellar door, which has a spectacular view over the lake. This is where Nick gave us the full Rippon story and philosophy, as well as his geographical knowledge of the area. We then went in for a fantastic breakfast in the Rippon Hall, followed by a tasting in the winery of mostly barrel samples of new wines yet to be released.
Onwards to Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room in Cromwell, which was a very scenic drive.
Andy & Misha Wilkinson greeted us outside their tasting room, which was opened in 2017. The tasting room is not located at the vineyard, as the vineyard is not easily accessible. It is located across from Lake Dunstan on the main approach to Cromwell, making it ideal for visitors to the region. Andy & Misha had secretly organised for a group of four to fly in a helicopter over the Cromwell basin and their vineyards. A draw was done and the four very excited winners (myself included) were ferried off with Andy to Heliview. It was a perfect blue sky day, so the views were amazing flying over the Remarkables and then back over the Cromwell basin and Lake Dunsworth, circling Misha’s Vineyard, we waved to the vineyard workers as we hovered overhead. It was pretty amazing!
We landed next to the Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room and joined the rest of the team for a tasting and lunch. As well as tasting the range currently available, we were able to try some older vintages, which allowed everyone to analyse the developing styles and differences in the vintages.
On our way back to Queenstown airport, we quickly stopped in at the Two Paddocks Fusilier Vineyard on Felton Road in Bannockburn for a walk through with Jacqui Murphy. This vineyard was purchased in 2013 and is a superb site for Pinot Noir. Two Paddocks have vineyards in all three major sub-regions (Gibbston Valley, Alexandra, Cromwell) in Central Otago.
We were back on the bus and then boarded the plane for home, full of respect and appreciation for the wonderful South Island wine brands that we proudly represent in the New Zealand market.