1993 The Beginning
Back in 1993 and feeling a little jaded by his work in the corporate world, Robin hatched the out-of-left field notion of becoming a winegrower. At that time he and Marion had participated in a vintage with their good friends David and Penny Glover at their Glovers Vineyard in the Moutere hills, Nelson, and had also, over the years, shared many fine wines with them. Robin was smitten by the vintage experience, Marion less so. But as she is fond of pointing out, if your partner comes up with a big idea, either you come up with a bigger one, or you go along with it …. besides, she was also becoming a little jaded with her teaching work.
So, a decision was made to buy a piece of land and plant grapes. Where would it be? At that time Hawkes Bay had the big name and fine reputation for winegrowing, and Marlborough was the emerging star region, but Marion and Robin both had to retain their day jobs to finance the winegrowing project. This meant staying close to Auckland. The logical place to look was Matakana/Mahurangi. Though there were only three vineyards in the area at the time, they had already produced, between them, some impressive red wines.
In very short order a suitable piece of land was selected. A north facing slope to allow maximum sun exposure and good drainage. Originally the vineyard and surrounding land was covered in kauri forest, but this was cleared and in the second half of the 19th Century the area was devoted substantially to orchards for the Auckland market. Some remain today. In more recent times much of the area has been dairy farmed, but today there is more beef cattle.
With the assistance of family and friends a large portion of the vineyard was planted in the winter of 1993.
1996 The First Vintage
Over the next few years wider family resources were deployed, so that by the time of the first vintage in 1996, Marion’s brother Robert Pinder had joined the operation. Prior to this he had built upon his orcharding background with a course in vineyard management at EIT in Hawkes Bay. Elder son Julian contributed art and graphic design for corporate identification and wine labels. Younger son Gabriel joined a few years later, having worked as a cellar hand and winemaker in wineries in New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy in the interim.
2000 Winery Construction Completion and Award
“Conceived and built in two stages, this delightful building exhibits strength in the simplicity and clarity of the glazed axial gallery. This space connects the arrival point with the vineyard beyond, projecting visitors into the landscape. Natural materials of polished concrete, steel and heavy timber columns predominate. The wine production process is visible from the gallery, revealing the purpose of the building. Hidden away to one side is a small owner’s flat. The gallery opens into a raised, semi-walled and paved courtyard enabling wider valley views and the drama of the vines to be enjoyed.”
Citation from the NZ Institute of Architects Auckland Regional Architecture Award 2001 for ASC Architects.
2007 Official Sponsors of TOSSI
Ransom Wines decided the TOSSI project was an extremely valuable contribution to the conservation of threatened native and indigenous species and worthy of support. We formed an agreement in 2007 with TOSSI to sponsor the Society in whatever practical ways we were able to. Our sponsorship mainly involves the provision of money, which comes from several sources. First, all tasting fees collected at our cellar door are contributed. Second, we provide TOSSI with $1.00 for every bottle of our premium “K Syrah”, sold in New Zealand. Third, we have special event dinners at our winery for groups of up to 60 people, and a proportion of the price for attending the dinner is earmarked as a donation to TOSSI. These dinners generally have entertainment in the form of a guest speaker talking about something happening at the open sanctuary or some other conservation-related topic. Fourth we provide wine for TOSSI events.
2010 Winners of Manaakitanga Award for Outstanding Winery Experience
The management team remains much the same today, although operational responsibilities have morphed over time. Marion is responsible for much of the administration and for managing the winebar operation. Robin has overall responsibility for vineyard and winery, for finances and for development of export markets. Robert remains the vineyard manager and Gabriel’s role has expanded to winery manager and winemaker, with additional responsibility for marketing within New Zealand.