CJ Pask’s Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc blocks on the Gimblett Gravels.
Richard Brimer rootstocks and pretty good clonal material, obviously deserved to be dealt to well, rather than some of the old material which had a limited lifespan.
More of the vineyard was changed to the Scott-Henry trellising system already being used on some of their Chardonnay blocks, and a much more aggressive approach to influencing crop levels of different varieties was adopted through canopy management and, where possible, finer control of irrigation by adjusting it to suit the considerable variability in the moisture-holding capacity of the soils on their land. Collins concedes that ‘it’s always going to be a limiting factor here that the soil profiles are so variable within blocks – but with our new plantings we’re trying to sculpture our blocks much more to our soil profiles and altering the irrigation to get control on those blocks’.
New Zealand Physical Map Photo Gallery
The CJ Pask experience with renovating a decade-old vineyard has been repeated many times in all regions of New Zealand. Cuttings on their own roots have to be replaced. Choice of clones for particular sites is difficult. So is matching rootstocks. Most importantly, the only real way to test the initial decision of matching plants to a site is growing the grapes and making wine from them. Even then, consumer tastes change and new varieties have to be introduced. Chris Pask’s approach to lifting his business to another level so that it can continue to compete on local and international markets is to employ experts like Kate Radburnd and Michael Collins – ‘because I’m not expert enough to do it myself’. He appreciates that the success of the enterprise comes from the skills of his staff.
Vidal, Esk Valley and Villa Maria
George Fistonich bought Vidal in 1976 and the Esk Valley winery and vineyards of Glenvale Wines in 1986. These acquisitions have paid dividends for Villa Maria in Hawke’s Bay and nationally, despite the difficulties the enterprise experienced during the intense competition for market share of the mid- to late 1980s. Among the larger wine companies, Villa Maria has had the longest continuous presence in the region without change of ownership. Until 1986 it owned no vineyards there but processed the grapes from its growers in Hawke’s Bay, and from Gisborne, at Vidal Estate. The Esk Valley winery of the Bird brothers of Glenvale helped to build Villa Maria’s reputation for making high-quality, single-vineyard red wines using grapes from its Terraces Vineyard, although only a small proportion of the wines vinified there came from that vineyard. With these two medium-sized wineries Villa Maria has been able to process the increasing quantities of grapes grown in Hawke’s Bay but also those grown in Gisborne where, like many major Auckland companies, they had let contracts to grow mainly Muller Thurgau in the 1960s and 1970s.
Villa Maria is one of the companies that went out of its way to have good relationships with its grape growers. Such associations have reciprocal advantages. Growers who were ill at ease with legally complicated contracts were attracted to Villa Maria, as was the case with Chris Pask. George Fistonich ensures that his winemakers from the group’s three entities compete for the grapes they vinify. This stimulates them to know the grape growers and in turn encourage the growers to improve their viticulture. Through doing so, growers are able to obtain higher prices for their grapes.