Two Terraces Vineyard, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Two Terraces Vineyard is being developed by Ian and Linda Quinn, with assistance from one of New Zealand’s leading viticulturalists.
We are inspired by many of the smaller wineries making wine in New Zealand for the premium end of the market, and are aiming to create a similar business as grape growers. We have no intention of making wine commercially, although we will probably make some for friends and family at some point!
The property consists of ~24ha (around 60 acres) spread over two terraces laid down by the Ngaruroro River. We are initially planting 10ha of vineyard on one of the terraces, and have a further 10-12ha which we will develop later. The property also has around 2ha of sloping banks, a portion of which we plan to plant with staked Syrah, in a manner similar to the way it is grown in the northern Rhone Valley in France.
The lower nightime temperatures of the inland site should support production of wines in a cooler climate style with good aromatics and elegant structure, avoiding the risk of overripe charactoristics.
Over the past 15,000 years, the nearby Ngaruroro River has laid down some spectacular terraces, with shallow stony silt loams over red metals. As well as being shaped by the river, the soils also contain volcanic deposits from past eruptions on the volcanic plateau in the central North Island.
Most of the site infrastructure will go in during 2015 and the first half of 2016, with initial planting taking place when the vines are available in the second half of 2016. Vine orders for the first phase of planting were placed during 2015.
Some great Chardonnay’s are being made in Hawke’s Bay, it grows well in our sub-region and is a big focus for us. We committed to 5ha of Chardonnay 548 - a relatively newer clone of Chardonnay that is in great demand. There are a good number of other Chardonnay clones planted in Hawke’s Bay, particularly Mendoza, Clone 15 and Clone 95, but there’s been a real buzz around the industry over the last couple of years as the first large commercial plantings of 548 have started to bear fruit.
Feedback we’ve had from winemakers when we’ve been discussing 548 is that it has more aromatic qualities than other Chardonnay’s, with fruit characters that are quite striking and pronounced. It has good acidity (important for balance in top wines) and citrus flavours along with more tropical fruits like peach, nectarine, passionfruit and banana. As a result, we’ve seen a number of New Zealand’s top Chardonnay vineyards planting 548 in new blocks over the last 3-4 years, and heard the anecdotes about different winemakers competing for parcels of 548 for their wines!
To give us a bit of clonal diversity and help others make a single vineyard wine off our property, we are also planting 1ha of Chardonnay 95, giving us 6ha out of the first 10ha in Chardonnay.
Lead by some discussions with a couple of wineries, we also decided to plant 2ha of Chenin Blanc, a variety that has it’s home in the Loire Valley in France. Chenin Blanc is another one of the “classic” grapevines - only a small amount is grown in New Zealand but it goes into premium wines and is typically championed by some pretty passionate winemakers. We decided to go with a couple of newer clones (220, 880) that were selected from vineyards in France for greater flavour intensity.
Again as a result of interest from winemakers that we really wanted to work with, we are going to plant ~1.2ha of Gamay Noir. Gamay is primarily associated with the Beaujolais region in France but is also grown in parts of the Loire. It is going through a quiet resurgence internationally (e.g. Jamie Goode’s recent series focusing on it) and there are already a couple of examples (soon to be added to!) being made in New Zealand. We were only able to find one Gamay clone (509) for sale in New Zealand, but were very fortunate to be offered some budwood from a top vineyard to give us a second “vineyard selection” option in our planting!
Last but not least, we’re planting 1ha of Syrah. Choosing the Syrah clones was probably the hardest call, given the diversity of opinion out there! We opted to go for a “Mass Selection” (MS) with it’s origins in the Stonecroft vineyard. Stonecroft was one of the original vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels and it’s founder, Dr. Alan Limmer, rescued some of the original Syrah vines from a collection at the Te Kauwhata research station before they were ripped out. Thought to have been originally sent out from France in the 1830’s, MS now forms the base for much of the success Hawke’s Bay is having with Syrah. We also added some Syrah 470 - a more recent clone known for it’s intense black pepper and plum flavours.
All up, the main planting plans for 2016 include;
Chardonnay 548 - 5ha
Chardonnay 95 - 1ha
Chenin Blanc 220 - 1ha
Chenin Blanc 880 - 1ha
Gamay Noir 509 - 0.6ha
Gamay Noir Vineyard Selection - 0.6ha
Syrah Stonecroft MS - 0.5ha
Syrah 470 - 0.5ha
Looking ahead, we also ordered some vines for a small research / development (R&D) block! This will have a small number of Viognier and Syrah Chave vines to give us some extra options around making Syrah (likely more than one!), and some Chardonnay 1066. 1066 is an interesting clone (great aromas and flavours) - we didn’t plant it in the main vineyard as we weren’t sure about the yield that we’d get on our site but this will give us the ability to trial that before making our planting decisions for the top terrace later. Our R&D block should also give the winemakers we’re working with some extra options to explore what’s possible now and in the future with our site. We’re also going to establish this block organically, to help us build up some experience with that.
In a landmark event for us during 2015, we signed a contract with Villa Maria to supply Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc grapes for use in their winemaking! It was an interesting process for us - Villa Maria have quite a long term perspective on their business and relationships, and that matches up with our goal to set up the vineyard from scratch and be involved with growing great wines. All-up, this will cover 7ha of our first 10ha of planting, with a good pathway to expand when we plant the top terrace in several years.
There were many reasons for signing with Villa Maria - one central point is their strong stable of premium brands (Villa Maria, Vidal's, Esk Valley) and a very strong track record in making great Chardonnay across New Zealand. Their viticultural team in Hawke’s Bay has been incredibly helpful (even before we started talking about grape supply), and they also have a long and strong history of working collaboratively with growers.
We also have commitments around most of the remaining grapes from two other winemakers, both of whom are renown for making small amounts of premium wine based around distinct vineyards.
Until it’s purchase, the site has been farmed as part of (or adjacent to) some of the larger, more historic stations in the Hawke’s Bay. While most of the riverside terraces were developed into vineyards during the 1990’s and 2000’s, this property remained in family hands and has been grazed in a very low intensity manner.
We plan on adopting a focus on sustainable viticulture from the outset. As well as joining the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program, we also intend developing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan, working to build appropriate biodiversity on the property to support that, and to make use of technology to monitor, report and accurately shape the way the property is farmed. We also joined Organic Winegrowers New Zealand during 2015, and evolving to organic certification once the vineyard is established is also an option we will look at in the future.
For more information, contact email@example.com or call Ian on +64 (0) 27 361 0686. You can also “Like" us on our Facebook page where we share updates regularly - https://www.facebook.com/twoterraces/