An established, organic Marlborough vineyard which has supplied grapes to celebrated wine label Churton, has been placed on the market for sale.
Located at 941 Waihopai Valley Road, the 22-hectare vineyard sits high above Marlborough in the Waihopai Valley. Planted across the rolling contours of the land, it encompasses predominantly sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes, along with small blocks of petit manseng, and viognier.
The vineyard supplies internationally renowned label Churton - known for its distinctive flavour and style combining the intensity of the vineyard’s fruit and the texture of more traditional European wines. As a result, Churton has earned praise from top national and international wine reviewers including Bob Campbell, Andrew Jefford’s World of Fine Wine and Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, which described the 2012 pinot noir vintage as “deeply coloured, enticingly floral and silky-textured, with impressive density and the structure to age”.
Strategically situated on the hillside, the vineyard is one of the few in the region that faces north east - enabling it to maximise early morning sun, while enjoying relief from the harsh afternoon heat - highly benefitting both the grapes and workers. Due to its strategic position it is also one of the earliest vineyards in the region to ripen.
The vineyard is known for being the first in Marlborough planted to contour, in addition to pioneering innovative cloning and planting methods, which combined with its elevated location, has enabled it to produce a superior product.
After developing their wine company Churton in 1997 followed by the vineyard in 2000, the owners have built up the business, which produces grapes for a portfolio of wines under the Churton label sold in 14 markets around the world.
The vineyard is being marketed by Bayleys Blenheim salesperson Tim Crawford, through a tender campaign closing on July 31. The vineyard has a ratable valuation of $3.28 million.
The property is 41 hectares, made up of 22 hectares of planted vineyard, with the balance of land grazing, forestry and scrub river terrace.
It is planted in European style, with very close vines to produce high quality fruit, and comprises of sauvignon blanc (56 percent), pinot noir (38 percent), petit manseng (2 percent) and viognier (4 percent). The petit manseng grapes produced by the vineyard is the first fruit of its kind grown in New Zealand, with the highly-regarded wine released in 2013.
Mr Crawford said the biodynamic management regime followed by the vineyard was a notable point of difference and in addition to the owners’ attention to detail throughout every stage of the process, produced fruit of exceptional quality.
“The high density plantings set out in 17 blocks, with 4630 vines per hectare, is twice the number of vines of the conventional set-up. Using biodynamic principles, the vineyard is 100 percent organic certified, and the fruit has responded extremely well. As a result, wine companies have been prepared to pay a premium of 60 percent above average district prices for the grapes,” he said.
Soils comprise of a thick layer of windblown loess, clays and silt loam layered over alluvial gravel, with mixed herbage to assist the soil’s natural water holding capacity. As no contouring was carried out during establishment, the soil has maintained its integrity and has been recognized for its quality. Renowned French soil scientist Claude Bourguignon notably described the vineyard’s land as ‘grand cru’ - of superior quality and great growth.
Irrigation is from a water right from the Omaka River and shares in the Waihopai Irrigation scheme - with natural water also collected in a dam on the property during the winter months. Irrigation is applied through drip line piping.
“The vineyard is endowed with the right characteristics to produce premium wines – given its north easterly aspect, fertile soil and an ideal microclimate allowing the grapes to mature to perfect ripeness,” said Mr Crawford.
“A new owner could take over this established business known for its high quality product, in the prospering wine industry. In addition, the land could be developed for additional uses such as converting the lower terrace to syrah, olives or forestry,” said Mr Crawford. The owners are potentially available to continue their management positions of the vineyard, by agreement with a new owner - bringing extensive wine industry experience as winemakers, consultants and commercial industry knowledge.
“This property offers a new owner a number of exciting opportunities to individualise the vineyard in their own way,” said Mr Crawford.