There are many milestones in business, but none is as big as a first. But what makes a milestone even more monumental is waiting patiently for years while nature does its job.

This is certainly the case for the first grape harvest for Craigmore Sustainables newest and largest vineyard located at Springhill in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

For Viticulture Business Manager, Emma Taylor the first harvest in April this year is the culmination of three-years of demanding work, which began in 2019 with the purchase of the 244.74-hectare property in Ongaonga, 60km south of Napier.

But the prospect of harvest was faced with some trepidation following the devastation of Cyclone Gabriel which ravaged the region in February.

“We were incredibly fortunate to narrowly avoid the worst of the cyclone and are extremely happy with the first harvest,” said Taylor. “The fruit was clean and well balanced, displaying zesty fruity flavours with a hint of acidity. We harvested just a small portion of the first plantings to pick just over 17 tonnes of fruit. I am looking forward to seeing how these characteristics are displayed in the finished product in the winery.”

Springhill is planted with predominately sauvignon blanc grapes with a small portion of pinot gris. Craigmore has partnered with Indevin New Zealand in a five -year agreement employing Vineyard Manager Sam Bain to lead the development and taking the fruit for wine production.

The Central Hawke’s Bay is a relatively new wine growing region – although the potential of the region for grapes has been well documented with both Romeo Bragato (New Zealand’s first government viticulturalist) and Frank Yukich (Pioneer of Viticulture in the Marlborough region) identifying the potential of the Central Hawkes Bay region. To date only small boutique wineries have been planted in the region, however the Springhill Vineyard is the first major viticulture development in the region.

“For as long as I’ve been in the viticulture industry, I’ve been looking for land in the Central Hawke’s Bay because the climate is perfect for aromatic wine grapes such as sauvignon blanc with beautiful free draining soil,” said Taylor.

Since establishment of the vineyard, a total of 156 hectares has been planted and 76 hectares will be in production in 2024 with a futher 80 hectares in 2025. At full production the vineyard is expected to yield 1500-1800 tonnes of sauvignon blanc and 300-360 tonnes of pinot gris.

New Zealand produces in excess of 300,000 tonnes of sauvignon blanc annually with three-quarters planted in Marlborough. With 86% exported, global demand for our wines remains high.

Published: 4 May 2023