Location: Napier NZ
When I first visited New Zealand I discovered the local wine industry. It is a small but very good industry. According to our guide today, New Zealand produces ½ of 1% of the total world wine production. A grocery store chain in England sells more wines itself than all of New Zealand produces.
So, it is not surprising that much of the wine that is produced in New Zealand is consumed in New Zealand and the rest is exported to countries like China (a large growing wine market). So, it is really a joy to be able to sample some of the local wines, many of which you cannot get in the States (although New Zealand wine is available, it is sometimes difficult to find – at least the better years and labels).
Today I did a tour of four wineries, Mission Bay, Te Awa, Moana Park, and Salvare. Dr. Mills and four students were along for the trip. Ten other students went on different wine tours. The feedback is that everyone enjoyed the experience.
At each winery, we were able to try six to seven different wines, normally three whites, three reds, and a dessert wine. Never been much into dessert wines but did try several really good ones. One of the things I like about the New Zealand wine industry is that they seem willing to experiment. In much of the world they have been producing the same wines for hundreds of years and unless
there is a disaster there is little desire to change. The vintners in New Zealand seem willing to try new things. They are the ones that really pushed the blending of red wines (something I really like), mixing oak and stainless barrels to create different chardonnay flavors.
Moana Park is one of the newest wineries in the Hawkes Bay area. The first vintage was produced in 2003. Originally intended as a boutique winery with primary revenue generated from cellar door sales. However, the demand for the wine produced by Moana park lead to an expansion with the 2013 vintage.
Moana Park is the only certified vegetarian and organic winery in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that they use no meat products in wine production (egg whites and other additives are frequently used for filtering, flavoring, and other parts of the wine making process) and avoid heavy metal fertilizers and other toxic materials in the production of their wine.
Moana Park winery is a good example of lack of availability. You can find this wine in upscale eating establishments and boutique wine stores in New Zealand and as an export to china.
Mission Estate was established by Marist Missionaries in Hawke's Bay in 1851, where vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine and New Zealand's first winery was born. The first record of a commercial sale dates back to 1870 when a parcel of mostly dry reds was sold.
Te Awa is a winery on the Gimblett Flats area of Hawkes Bay. The Gimblett Flats is an old river bed that for many years was treated as poor farm and grazing land and primarily used as a gravel pit and a go-kart track. It was not until 1987 that the first vintage was produced.
Te Awa is one of the wineries on the flats. The full Maori name given to the site is Te Awa o Te Atua which means 'River of God', a reference to the mysterious subterranean streams over which the vineyards are situated and from which the wines draw their exquisite, yet subtle characteristics. T
he quality comes from the free draining soil which consistently produces high quality fruit.
Salvare Estate is a 15 acre Chardonnay vineyard located on Ngatarawa Road in Hawkes Bay. To broaden their range they also source quality fruit from other Hawkes Bay growing areas such as Puketapu and Gimblett Road, “This way we get the best of both worlds” says Steve.
Since the first vintage in 2007 every style of wine that Salvare produces has been awarded a medal. In 2010 the range was extended to include Salvation Chardonnay and Salvation Hawkes Bay Red Blend. These wines are designed to be for longer term cellaring whilst retaining the signature elegance of all Salvare Estate wines.
Salvare Estate also produces two olive oils, a Picual and a Barnea grown locally in the Puketapu valley. To complement the oils a range of dukkahs is also produced ( Egyptian, Hot and Spicy and Dukkah Buttah - a spreadable version of Dukkah unique to Salvare Estate).The range of food products also extends to mustard and vinaigrettes, with everything available to taste at the cellar door.
For those looking for good wines, try New Zealand. The 2012 vintage should be really good a
s it was a hot, dry year. Vintners use an old adage: if the farmers cry, the vintners cheer. In 2012 they cheered loudly.