Winemaker proud to buck trends
Marlborough’s Framingham Wines prides itself on its individuality, with each member of the team preferring to buck the mainstream trends, and its wines are the same.
Framingham Wines boasts what are arguably Marlborough’s oldest Riesling vines, which were planted in 1981 and some of the first vines in the area grafted on phylloxera resistant rootstock.
Company founder Rex Brooke-Taylor grew grapes for other wineries, and through that process the fruit coming off his vineyard became very well recognised.
The Framingham name first appeared on the back of a Grove Mill bottle of Riesling in the mid 1980s.
In 1994, Framingham Wines launched its own brand and the name appeared first on the front label of a bottle of 1994 Riesling which was initially sold domestically and received a lot of accolades and gold medals.
Today Framingham Wines is owned by Sogrape, the largest family-owned wine company in Portugal, and its range has increased to include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, and Montepulciano.
In previous years it has also produced Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Merlot, Merlot-Malbec, Chenin Blanc, and Methode Champenoise.
Framingham Wines managing director Tom Trolove says the company is now exporting 80 per cent of its product to 48 different markets around the world, where it is sold mainly in fine dining restaurants.
He says the company is all about the individual, and it recognises both its staff and the 20,000 visitors it welcomes every year for who they are and what they do.
“We pride ourselves in being out of the mainstream, and our wines are like that too,” he says.
“Our Sauvignon Blanc has a portion of wild fermentation involved, and our Rieslings are crazily good,” he says.
“Because they’re made from that old material, they’ve really got a lot of character.”
Winemaker Dr Andrew Hedley has just completed his 16th vintage for Framingham Wines.
A doctor of organic chemistry and a self-taught winemaker who fell in love with Framingham Rieslings, he has since broadened his skills into all the other varieties produced by Framingham.
Framingham’s F Series allows Andrew the freedom to experiment with wild fermentation, new varieties, and new techniques, and the best of what is learned from the F Series is incorporated into the Framingham range.
“Such as our Sauvignon Blanc which is predominantly made in stainless steel, but is also wild fermented in old French oak barrels,” Tom says.
“Our F Series allows for innovation, and therefore improvement.”
He says Framingham doesn’t go to the market and ask what it wants, rather makes the best wine it possibly can then goes to find the people who appreciate it.
“We want to keep adding layers of interest into the wine industry,” he says.
“Andrew is very proud of all the wines he makes and he has to make sure that works year in, year out. I think that’s the ticket in this industry – to make sure your winemakers are hitting their straps year in and year out, and keeping them inspired and interested and what they’re doing.”
Inspiration is never far away at Framingham Wines, where there is always music playing on the
stereo, and the courtyard is adorned with quotes from musicians, artists, and revolutionaries.
“You won’t find any Britney Spears, but you’ll find people like Johnny Cash and John Lennon and people who have really crafted their own direction in the world,” Tom says. “That’s where we find a lot of inspiration.”
Framingham Wines has hosted the Harvest Concert for the past seven years, which sees about 500 people come to the winery in March to celebrate the harvest and enjoy some of New Zealand’s best musical talent.
Company viticulturist James Bowskill and his guitar appear in the line up.