Mission Estate – forging the path in NZ

Mission Estate - forging the path in NZ
Production is undertaken at Mission Estate’s winery in Greenmeadows, where the wine is also stored, bottled and dispatched.

Steeped in history, Hawke’s Bay’s Mission Estate Winery has the honour of being New Zealand’s oldest winery, highly awarded and with a reputation for producing quality wines of distinction.The story goes back to the early 1830’s when the Marist Brothers arrived in New Zealand with vines brought all the way from France.
Landing in the far north, they were eventually sent down the east coast via Gisborne before in 1851 finally establishing vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay in a place called Meeanee, now a suburb of Napier.In those early days the vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine in order to continue the Brothers’ wine drinking tradition.
Production was later moved a short distance away to Greenmeadows, in Taradale, with grapes grown in both Greenmeadows and Meeanee.Fast-forward to 1990 and land was acquired on the Bay’s Gimblett Gravels, famous for its dry and very stoney soils.With the vineyards in Meeanee unsuitable for the Mission’s new direction of growing fine wines, that land was sold.
“We were starting to develop a grower network around the better locations in Hawke’s Bay, while consolidating our own production around the Gimblett Gravels and white wines predominantly out of Greenmeadows,” says Peter Holley who has been CEO of Mission Estate since 1996.
“In 2012 we acquired a 100 hectare block in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, bringing us into a situation where we’re now procuring fruit out of all the major grape growing regions – our own vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough, supplemented with growers in both Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.
“In total we have just over 400 hectares in vineyards throughout those regions – a combination of company owned vineyards and a network of experienced and skilled contract growers.”
The wide range of grape varietals are matched to the location, soil types and climates and include sauvignon blanc and pinot noir in Marlborough, pinot noir out of Cenral Otago, cabernet, merlot and cabinet franc from the Gimblett Gravels along with the aromatics typically found around Hawke’s Bay including chardonnay, gewürztraminer and riesling.
With capacity to process 3200 tonnes of fruit, all production is undertaken at Mission Estate’s winery in Greenmeadows, where the wine is also stored, bottled and dispatched.“Making wine is very traditional and the fundamentals remain the same,” says Peter.
“Making fabulous fantastic wine in a modern age builds on those very sound principles and that includes the application of newer technologies around harvesting, sorting, crushing and extracting juice, how you deal with the grape skins and what you put into your fermentation with the yeast you select.

Mission Estate - forging the path in NZ
Hawke’s Bay’s Mission Estate Winery has the honour of being New Zealand’s oldest winery.

“So over the years, while things have become much more sophisticated around the technology used to manage those processes, the fundamentals remain the same.”
Building on Mission Estates fine history, is its cellar door and restaurant in the beautifully restored seminary building nestled in the Taradale Hills, offering sweeping views of the vineyards and coast below.Peter reflects on what makes Mission Estate wines special and says there are two key things that stand out in his mind.
“The first is that you can’t go past your heritage. To date there have only been twelve wine-makers – all award-winning and all trained and strongly influenced by European and particularly French wine making.
‘The second is we’ve found the very best vineyard sites in the country and have a very well qualified and experienced viticulture manager. “We tend to be very traditional with the way we work with the material so minimal inputs and let the vineyard and the grape varieties do the talking.”
Always looking to meet consumer demand, Mission has been experimenting with organic growing on two if it’s vineyards with considerable success with and in recent times has introduced two low alcohol wines. Mission Estate’s story is set to continue well into New Zealand’s wine growing future.
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