Our vineyard is planted in an area known technically as the “rolling and hilly land soils of the Warkworth soils series”. These soils are best described as well to moderately well-drained iron-rich red sandy clays and sandy clay-loams. Our vineyard, like most others in the region, is planted on a north facing slope – in our case an almost continuous 1 in 10 slope. Our northerly aspect assists soil drainage and maximises sun exposure to the vines. Clay-based soil encourages richness in all the wines and in the reds, a warm, earthy quality.
We do not irrigate our vineyard, so the vines must seek their own water sources. Non-irrigation is considered essential for the production of high-quality wine grapes in the world’s best winegrowing regions, indeed irrigation is prohibited in most of Europe’s best regarded regions.
The climate is northern and maritime. So the potential for frost damage in the spring is virtually non-existent, and heat summation throughout the growing season is considerably greater than that of any wine region south of Auckland. This gives a long and warm autumn and allows us to ripen grape varieties which cooler areas further south can struggle with, notably some of the later-ripening reds. Being on a narrow isthmus between two oceans also means the vineyard is breezy, which can give a very useful drying effect towards the end of the season when autumn rains can occur.
The vineyard, which is adjacent to the Mahurangi River, was partially planted in 1993 with chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot vines. Plantings of pinot gris, cabernet franc, carmenère, and malbec followed. At the end of 2009 a small block of our newest variety, albarino, was planted, with more plantings at the end of 2010, on our Mahurangi River Vineyard block. A block of syrah nearby at Matakana completes the range. The first vintage was in 1996.