Winemaker’s Comment – Spring Newsletter 2010

What does a viticulturist do on his holiday? When it comes to Gareth, the answer is who would know - he never takes one! Gareth, with his enthusiasm and passion to get things perfect in our vineyards, is very difficult about taking a well earned break. So we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse; take the family on a three month exploration of the fine wine country of Europe and the USA. One of the interesting aspects of being an organic and biodynamic vineyard intently focussed on making the best possible wines, is that we have no end of applicants wanting to come and learn from the master. Having knowledgeable, experienced and enthusiastic workers makes all the difference; ensuring our vineyards and fruit are in tip-top shape. It makes my job much easier, becoming more caretaker than winemaker, simply guiding the fruit to the bottle.  

With an opposite growing season to the US and Europe, well over half of our summer vineyard team is comprised of young and aspiring viticulturists and winemakers fresh from technical school and/or their family estates. Gareth and his family were received with open arms at estates across Europe, California and Oregon. Sitting on the plane returning in time for bud-break, he counted no less than 30 visits to previous Felton Road employees.

Felton Road seems to be having a bit of a TV thing at the moment. You can catch Nigel, as well as the vineyards and animals, on Thorney’s Cooking Central on Food Television currently and on TV1 after Christmas. Similarly we are very pleased to be part of another TV production with the Family of Twelve wineries (  titled Harvests. This will be screening initially on Air New Zealand’s inflight entertainment and early next year on New Zealand television.

While not as relaxing and fun as Gareth’s trip, my travels this year have taken me to wine events, tastings and market work in Brazil, Canada, USA, Spain, England, Hong Kong and Australia. While it sounds wonderful, I lost count of the number of airports I’ve been through and hotel beds stayed in. Nigel did Hawaii – enough said!

The travel does allow me to keep in touch with customers internationally. Our 2009 Pinot Noir and Chardonnays are being well received in all of our markets and it is reassuring for us to see that almost every market is selling out faster than ever. This slightly smaller but amazing quality vintage won’t be around for much longer so shout now if you’d like some! The 2010 Rieslings follow on in the same style as previous recent vintages with the off-dry style gaining the Bannockburn designation. The quality and elegance of the 2010 Rieslings is a sign of great things to come with the 2010 Pinot Noirs – we can say with increasing confidence it will be yet another very successful vintage for us.

Enjoy the wines!

Blair Walter