Posts Tagged ‘Waipara Valley’

Christchurch/Southern New Zealand wins wine capital of the world title

October 15, 2009

Christchurch/Southern New Zealand has been selected as the New Zealand representative on the prestigious Great Wine Capitals Global Network. 

The Great Wine Capitals network, which includes as members wine regions such as Bordeaux, France and San Francisco/Napa Valley in the US, is an international network of major wine producing regions which aims to promote tourism, education and business exchange.

The Christchurch City Council-led bid to join the international network incorporates the wine growing regions of Canterbury, Waipara Valley, Marlborough and Central Otago. As the largest wine-growing region in the South Island, Marlborough took a key role in the bid.

Click here to read the rest of the announcement…..

Wine Library TV: Gary Vaynerchuk’s daily wine video blog

June 2, 2009

Daniel Schuster from the Waipara Valley in New Zealand continues his discussion with Gary V about the delicious wines he produces in New Zealands South Island.

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Talking New Zealand Wine and More with Daniel Schuster – Part 1 – Episode #684

May 28, 2009

If you think you understand New Zealand wines, this interview with Daniel Schuster will open your eyes to both the history and what you are probably missing. Go, seek and then smile!

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In Praise of Riesling 2009

February 18, 2009

Date: Saturday March 7th 2009
Venue: Pegasus Bay Winery, Waipara New Zealand.

If the title of the event didn’t give it away, it’s a whole day spent consummating the passion many people feel for the world’s greatest white wine variety.

The event sold out last year, and there are a limited number of seats left for this year. The day begins with an international Riesling tasting which includes wines rarely seen from producers such as FX Pichler, Prager and Hirtzberger (Wachau, Austria), JJ Prum and Heymann-Lowenstein (Mosel, Germany) and Donnhoff (Nahe, Germany).

This is followed by lunch provided by the team that won the Cuisine Magazine Winery Restaurant of the Year title at Pegasus Bay Winery.

The afternoon will be dedicated to understanding New Zealand Riesling, including a regional workshop with Riesling from Gisborne, Martinborough, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago. There will also be a showcase of Waipara Valley Rieslings with 15 local wineries putting their “best Riesling foot forward”.

The day will finish with a five course meal giving careful consideration to Riesling’s unique place as an outstanding food wine in its many different styles.

“In Praise of Riesling” is New Zealand’s only dedicated Riesling event. Join local & national winemakers, some of Australasia’s most influential wine writers, Riesling experts and fans for a wonderful day dedicated to this classic grape variety.

For more information go to

Vintage Update: Torlesse Wines Waipara Valley New Zealand

February 8, 2009

Dick and Vivian Pharis are co-owners of the McKenzie’s Road Vineyard in Waipara New Zealand and shareholders in Torlesse Wines. For everyone who thinks owning a vineyard is a romantic adventure take a moment and read through Dick’s note about what is happening in the vineyard right now.

Well, we (Vivian and a crew of 3 workers) have just finished crop thinning (throwing grapes on the ground) in the Gewurz, which has set profusely this year on every cane laid down. Hard work and most workers don’t understand why they are “wasting all those nice grapes”. Anyway, crop load is now (hopefully) in balance with photosynthetically useful canopy of leaves.

Same exercise was done ca. 2 weeks ago with our Pinot Noir. Our west block PN (Clone 10/5) is being set up for spur pruning this coming winter — implications are a lower crop load in 2010 [with luck, no fruit thinning needed], more upright canes next year (less 2nd set since vertical canes maintain a dominance over lateral buds. When the upright fruiting cane [or next year’s laydown fruiting cane] leans out of the vertical, that dominance over lateral buds diminishes. Once the “lean begins”, the lateral buds break out of their “arrested state” and start to grow, produce flowers and those flowers, in turn, produce 2nd set clusters of green immature fruit. 2nd set fruit competes somewhat with 1st set fruit for products of photosynthesis.

However, the main problem with 2nd set fruit is that early 2nd set that occurs in the fruiting zone “almost ripens” (and looks “beautiful” and is picked by naive pickers at ca. 18 Brix). Presence of 2nd set fruit clusters also precludes picking by machine because those big fat clusters of immature 2nd set fruit sometimes vibrate off and fall into the ripe fruit mix — 12-14 Brix, tart green berries are not a favoured flavour for Burgunday style wine.

Next chore is a opening the fruit zone a bit more in the chardonnay by light hand leaf plucking and lateral pulling/snipping (in the crotch of the vine).

Then, on to the Riesling for more fruit thinning on young plants which are obviously overcropped.

Finally, the Merlot requires a bit of hand leaf plucking and dropping of “wimpy fruiting canes” with 2 and 3 clusters but only 1 or 2 leaves!

This has been an unbelieveably good year in Waipara for fruit set on virtually all varieties.

While all this is going on, we’re running bird netting, 1st on the Pinot Noir, then the Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurz and the Chardonnay, et al, ad nauseum. 

The birds know where the good fruit is and they love the care and attention the grapes recieve at Torlesse Wines in Waipara New Zealand.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Worlds Most Popular and Least Understood Wine

January 22, 2009

New Zealand Sauvignon blanc could be one of the world’s most popular wines and at the same time the least understood. When you pause and consider that over 85% of New Zealand’s wine producers make less than 25k cases of wine per year, yet the world is generally exposed to the production from the remaining 15%.

Granted, this 15% has done a tremendous job of marketing a singular story, the really exciting side of New Zealand is this large group of micro producers.

This group has regional diversity, winemaking styles that vary and generally a very hands on approach in their vineyards. Most are both wine growers and wine makers. In other words they can honestly be viewed as Estates.

New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper recently wrote about this in the New Zealand Listener. His article has some interesting comments.

  • …the classic French grape variety also thrives in other regions, from Hawke’s Bay to Waipara…
  • … from Hawke’s Bay grapes and modelled on the famous dry whites of Graves, in Bordeaux, swings the spotlight on our alternative sauvignons.
  • UK wine writer Tom Cannavan argues that ‘‘the ‘typical’ New Zealand sauvignon is not a food wine, and is rarely subtle or complex … the style is becoming a caricature: aromatic fireworks and a dollop of residual sugar to balance searing acidity has become a recipe by which some churn out a ‘product’, rather than a wine”.
  • … is critical of the common practice in New Zealand of making sauvignon blanc slightly sweet, “a style where one glass is definitely enough
  • … Surely the world expects sauvignon blanc to be dry white wine. I certainly do!”

The article continues to highlight several producers who understand the difference between “fine wine and a refreshing beverage”.

This is just one of many comments I hear about the current state of New Zealand wine. Some predict New Zealand is following Australia toward the same cliff.

My sense is the world is about to discover the “little guys” scattered across New Zealand who make really nice wines, that lead to memorable evenings with friends and food.

You can read the full article on the Listeners web site. Listener

New Growing Season at Torlesse Wines

December 9, 2008
61447 Torlesse 08 Sets PRF

Now Available in USA

I just received this new vintage update from Kym Rayner winemaker at Torlesse Wines in the Waipara Valley.

Torlesse Wines is typical of many artisan handcrafted wineries in New Zealand. If you visit the winery you will be hosted by Kym, his wife Maggie or Paul Hewitt the assistant wine maker. This is pretty cool.

One of the special characteristics of Kym’s wine is the ability to improve over time in the bottle. New Zealand has yet to achieve this recognition and Kym will be one of the many winemakers who is able to show the extra effort in the vineyard pays rewards for us consumers down the road.

Kym Rayner’s Comments  on the 2009  Growing  Season

“The winter of 2008 was normal to bordering on cold with a snow fall in June that settled on the ground at the winery

Late winter rains were very heavy in July and about 3 weeks later in August resulting in flooding around the winery.

Since August, rainfall has been slight torlesse-mapand while we are happy with low rainfall, the farming community around Waipara and in fact much of the East coast of NZ is very dry. We planted some Pinot Gris in late October and have been watering since then

The other significant fact is Waipara had no frost events or no visible damage on our vineyards at least. This coupled with warm dry conditions has meant early flowering and pretty good set.

The only negative is these conditions are also ideal for powdery mildew so there are plenty of sulphur sprays going on. This is an acceptable spray from an organic/sustainable approach.

Our vineyard has been quite untidy this year as we are spraying less herbicide and leaving a wider range of ground cover to bring in more insect diversity, hopefully beneficially,  like lady birds, spiders and bees and the predator wasps.

Things are shaping up for an excellent vintage.”

Thanks Kym, for sharing and letting us know there are some good things to look forward to.








Torlesse Pinot Noir

November 17, 2008
For the past decade, New Zealand has been a rising star in the world of Pinot Noir. Bottlings from small producers like Torlesse showcase the beautiful character and elegance that result from careful nurturing in the vineyards and cellar. This Pinot has it all ? sweet plummy fruit, subtle spiciness and the refined complexity that mark a classic Pinot Noir. Torlesse winemaker Kym Rayner practically coddles this wine. He gains maximum color and full flavor extraction by fermenting in small vessels, hand-plunging the cap and allowing the wine to sit another 10 days on the grapeskins. In the classic Burgundian style, the wine is gently pressed in a traditional basket press and aged in French oak. Lots of work by Kym means an exceptional wine for us! This Pinot is excellent with lamb, beef and full-flavored pasta dishes.

New Zealand Pinot Noir Tasting

November 17, 2008

Interesting Pinot Noir tasting in New Zealand last week. This tasting had a different twist in that both consumers and wine professionals were given the chance to taste and ackowledge their favorites.

They did agree that New Zealand is crafting some very lovely Pinot’s right now and much pleasure for those who seek them out.

Torlesse Wines, winemaker Kym Rayner has a special project called Omihi Road that was a consumer favorite.

Video summary of the event is located at New Zealand’s TV 3

September 25, 2008

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

What Do You See? 

Here is New Zealand photographer Allan Johnston’s philosophy that guides his eye when creating the stunning images of New Zealand wine country. Below is a comment from an earlier post:

  • – “I have used the natural and man-made lines in the landscape to draw your eyes into the photograph and lead you somewhere, such as a road or row of vines. What you see beyond the lines, nobody knows, as we all see something different, to take away a different piece of my world and what I see.”  Allan Johnston

It is interesting to listen to people I have met over the last few years selling New Zealand wine. It’s true everyone sees something different.

One told the story of visiting an old world winery and how their guide was so excited to show them the new lab. I guess when your winery looks a bit like a small oil refinery, the lab is pretty important. These certainly exist in all wine regions.

At the next stop it was all about the vines, this one is easy to understand. They drink their own wine.

Another compared the challenges a parent would have sharing time with a small family versus a large one and suggesting the more vines the more diluted the care.

While traveling after lunch one day to a hillside vineyard in Waipara Valley I saw something myself. While I remember the calmness of this location, it was this comment by Vivian Pharis of Torlesse Wines, that really caught my attention:

  • – “by the time these grapes are harvested, each vine will have been touched by human hands at least five times during this vintage”

Photo Dick Pharis Torlesse Wines

That’s a lot of love going into the grapes, imagine the wine!

Some one else might see real estate play.

Potential to go on and on is real.

Allan is right, we all see something different and that is why evenings with wine, food and friends are so enjoyable. Everyday we have the opportunity to experience something special. We just have to stop and look.

What do you see?