Nestled in the foothills at the northern end of Waimea West is one of the most delightful vineyards in the region - Golden Hills Estates.
Geoff and Sophie Marr set out to establish more than a simple productive wine venture, they wanted to create something special for people to enjoy, and even though it is still a work in progress the vineyards are a delight to spend some time in.
It may not be obvious when you arrive at the tasting room that is located at the business end of the property near sheds and other areas still under development. But take a stroll around the outside of the house and enjoy the views across the gently sloping vineyards to the lake below. The bones of a deck over the lake are in place and when time permits Geoff and Sophie will get it finished, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Another feature of the vineyard is the wide spacing between the rows. Geoff says this is for a couple of key reasons; firstly they wanted to get a full size tractor on the sloping land so they can operate safely. Secondly they lay a reflective cloth between the rows to increase the temperature in the vineyard at key times of the year – at flowering time and prior to harvest to help ripen the fruit. Wide row spacing not only makes it easier to lay and pick up the cloth but also allows more sunlight to penetrate between the vines. An unintended benefit is that is makes it easier for visitors to stroll around the vineyard when it is safe to do so.
When the Marrs bought the property in 2002 they planted avocado trees and as well as producing avocados for sale they also tree ripen a large volume for pressing to make avocado oil.
Then they met Trevor Bolitho from Waimea Estates who encouraged them to establish a vineyard - so they did. However not satisfied with just growing varieties considered normal at the time they also planted a few rows of an Italian variety, Dolcetto, and this has proved to be a very successful variety for them.
The Marrs are delivering Dolcetto under the Golden Hills label along with their award winning sauvignon blanc and pinot gris as well as a pinot noir, syrah and merlot.
They also want share the environment they have created and welcome visitors who want to have a picnic beside the lake or even ride their horses around the 30 acre property. Before you turn up with your horse give them a call to make sure it is safe to have them in the vineyard. Have a look at www.goldenhillsestates.co.nz
I have been drinking
Golden Hills Estates 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
The 2009 edition of this wine won a Blue Gold medal at the Sydney Top 100 wine awards last year and the pedigree is reflected in this edition. As the back label says “a fruit salad of flavours” with gooseberry and grapefruit characters and a touch of minerality in the finish to balance the fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Perfect summer drinking.
Neudorf Vineyards 2009 Moutere Chardonnay - $55 at the cellar door
This wine has cult status, even when chardonnay has been out of favour with many wine drinkers, and is regularly rated as one of the very best chardonnays not only in New Zealand but in the world. If you are a regular buyer of this wine you won’t be disappointed with the 2009 vintage. Sparkling pale gold in colour with refined warm biscuit and floral aromas that hint at the complexity of the flavours. Full flavoured yet elegantly refined, the winemaking team at Neudorf has delivered another super wine. A small crop means small volumes of this so get yours quickly because it will sell out once again.