An easy 40-minute drive north of Christchurch will land you on the doorstep of one of the most exciting wine regions in NZ. Farm country and pine plantations open up just a couple of kilometres north of the town of Amberley to reveal a breathtakingly beautiful valley, carpeted on both sides of the highway with vines as far as the eye can travel. The Waipara Valley is surrounded by the ancient, mineral-rich limestone clay slopes of Mt Cass to the east and the Three Deans range to the west, and its vineyards grow with gusto under the unmistakable cloud formation known as the Nor’west Arch. When you see it, you know that Canterbury’s fierce northwesterly is blowing hot and dry –which isn’t good for ones mood, but it’s great for controlling vine vigour and creating intense, succulent pinot noir. Combine this bionic breeze with long, dry autumns means Waipara winemakers enjoy minimal disease pressure leading into vintage. Waipara’s modern wine era began with experimental plantings on a 400ha farm in the 1960’s, but it was in the mid 1980’s when pinot pioneering kicked into gear and by 2017 the region can lay claim to being home to international trophy winning examples that are winning friends and influencing people.
Inland from the Waipara Valley lies the Waikari Hills, an area incorporating the Weka Pass, Pyramid Valley and Scargill Valley. Hunting for new and exciting terroirs, curious producers struck out in the late 1990’s, toward land famous for its outcrops of pure, limestone-derived rendzina soils. Soils that inject a distinctive layer of minerality that marinates through the wines of this exciting sub-region. These high-density planted vineyards are at higher elevations, 250-300m above sea level, and have soils ranging from pure chalky limestone to lime-rich derived clays and subsurface marine glauconite/greensand. The clay provides flesh and generosity to Waikari’s pinot noir, while the increased levels of this special ‘active’ limestone, imparts tension, nervosity and a lovely layer of salinity.
Bell Hill Vineyard
BELL HILL VINEYARD
Mt. Beautiful wines are the expression of the wild, rugged and breathtakingly scenic region of North Canterbury. Certified-sustainable and estate-grown, these distinctively restrained wines let the pure terroir shine through. World-renowned scholar/entrepreneur and New Zealand native David Teece, together with his wife Leigh, spent two years searching for just this spot, where they could pioneer an undiscovered region and fulfil their dream of bringing the best of New Zealand to the world.
Pegasus Bay is owned and operated by the Donaldson’s, Pioneers of the Canterbury wine industry. Ivan and Christine established the vineyard in 1985, and today Ivan oversees viticulture, Christine curates the breathtaking gardens, Eldest son Matthew is winemaker, Edward is marketing manager while his wife Belinda managers the winery restaurant, and youngest son Paul is GM. 12 different clones of Pinot Noir represent a third of the plantings with most now 30 years of age.
Pyramid Valley Vineyards
PYRAMID VALLEY VINEYARDS
The Crater Rim
THE CRATER RIM
Tongue in Groove Wines
This label brings the knowledge of six friends into a beautiful collision with the best vineyards in one of the most exciting wine regions. Our Pinot Noir vineyard ‘Cabal’ is a clay and limestone vineyard on the north facing slopes of the Omihi Hills. We practice low intervention wine-making – natural yeasts, minimal handling, no additions, filtering or fining, light filtration for clarity and stability. Our headquarters is the organic, permaculture property called The Food Farm in the heart of the Waipara Valley.
TONGUE IN GROOVE WINES
At Waipara Hills our winemaking philosophy is simple. It’s about creating perfect balance, encouraging the characteristics of each season’s fruit to shine, whilst celebrating South Island vineyards. The result is wine that is rich, textural and bursting with complex flavour.
From the vineyards to the winery, our team are hands on in perfecting their craft, pouring a little of themselves into everything they do. Discover the Soul of the South with Waipara Hills.