Science, hard work and nature
A cellar door that gives visitors a true taste of Kiwi is the latest initiative at Maori Point Vineyard.
Owners Marilyn Duxson and John Harris, and Maggie and Matt Evans have all come to Tarras from academic backgrounds, to create wines in harmony with what is a challenging environment.
Marilyn and John both taught and had research labs at Otago University’s Medical School. They met and became friends with Maggie who at the time was doing a PHD in animal fertility control. All three have doctorates and Maggie’s husband Matt, a Californian winemaker, has an MBA.
With similar aspirations in science-based, sustainable vineyard management, the two couples formalised their business partnership last year and recently created a tasting room to showcase their wines.
Marilyn says small functions will be hosted in the future but daily tastings are already attracting visitors to the new cellar door, which opened in midOctober. As well as the wines, people were enjoying the big skies and spectacular mountain backdrops which give the site an open, spacious feel.
With hundreds of native plants now established, soils building and honey bees thriving, the vineyard is coming into its own. It’s a big plot – over 30ha – with 6.5ha planted predominantly in pinot noir with 1.5ha of pinot gris. On one side is the Clutha River and on the other, beyond Maori Point Road, large-scale sheep, beef and dairy-grazing farms.
From a bare-land start about 15 years ago the picturesque vineyard today is a testament to a lot of hands-on graft. The rewards are there now, with vintages attracting swags of awards and five star reviews.
There’s no pretension, however, at this very Kiwi grass-roots operation. They are equally proud of the top-end pinots as they are of the charming Gold Digger Frizzante – essentially ‘bubbly in a beer bottle’.
‘‘It’s one of our stars, like an Italian prosecco but not so sweet and the bottles are so practical to take on a picnic or when you don’t want to open a big bottle. It’s been a run-away success and we’ve sold 1200 cases this year.
‘‘We don’t want people to just feel like they are in just another tasting room that could be anywhere in the world, we want them have a unique New Zealand experience.’’