Winemaker's Comment Autumn 2010

You may have noticed on our current newsletter we are featuring a shot of our new labels. An ongoing irritation for us has been the reference to our "regular", "standard", "basic", "entry level" and all the other ghastly sounding names that have been used to describe it over the years. So, we've finally decided to name it. 2009 Felton Road Pinot Noir Bannockburn, is the new official naming of Felton Road Pinot Noir. The wine is unchanged, just the addition of a name. Since the addition of the Cornish Point Pinot Noir to the range, we began talking more and more about our three vineyards - all located in Bannockburn and all farmed under the same organic and biodynamic regime. The Felton Road Pinot Noir is usually about a third from each of the three vineyards: Elms, Calvert and Cornish Point. We also began describing the wine as essentially our village Bannockburn wine with the single vineyard wines above that from Cornish Point and Calvert, then the two single Block wines from within Elms: Block 3 and Block 5. The Chardonnay has also been given the same Bannockburn designation as it is also a blend from each of our three Bannockburn vineyards.

Nigel and I were completely humbled and very honoured to receive an inaugural award presented to just two wineries at the international Pinot Noir 2010 event in Wellington earlier this year. The award 'Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa' translates from Maori as Great Growth or Grand Cru of New Zealand. In presenting the award at the grand finale Gala Dinner, Alastair Maling, Master of Wine and Chairman of Pinot Noir 2010, said: "The Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa award recognises those who have taken time to evolve and develop Pinot Noir. They are widely considered a Premier Producer of Pinot Noir; the top echelon and an inspiration to the rest of the industry. This award is a uniquely New Zealand one, combining terroir with winemaking philosophy and consistent quality. It can only be achieved with vine age, proven wine quality, authenticity and undoubted global recognition." It is a great honour; firstly to be recognized by our peers in the New Zealand wine industry, but also for Nigel and I to be standing next to our friends at Ata Rangi in accepting this award.

We're very pleased to introduce Tracy Thomson to our team. Tracy is the one who receives you at our cellar door, processes and despatches orders and manages allocations - not to mention the myriad of other tasks that need to be done in a small team like ours. Most importantly for us in the winery, Tracy has been expertly and keenly driving the espresso machine throughout harvest keeping myself and my team well fuelled during our busy days in the cellar! Speaking of which, 2010 has turned out to be another exceptional vintage for us. We, very thankfully, finished harvesting the day before the heavy rains arrived that threatened to flood Queenstown. Another excellent growing season provided wonderful quality fruit. The wines are now all quietly resting in barrel and we look forward to following their development.

Last on the news list is a new look to our website ( We really hope you take the time to have a look around and enjoy visiting Felton Road online. It has been, as all these things are, a hair tearing exercise at times. It reminds us what a harmonious process growing grapes and making wine really is. We are very fortunate.

We trust you enjoy these new releases: 2009 is certainly a vintage for us to be proud of. We are always nervous of making grand proclamations on the release of a young wine, but we would have to say we feel confident that this vintage will be a reference benchmark in years to come.


Blair Walter