Central (or Southern?) Hawke’s Bay
In the last decade the potential of land in Central Hawke’s Bay, south of the Heretaunga Plains, has been demonstrated with wines of distinction being made from a variety of sites. Among the most promising are the loess-covered hills with limestone underlying them that occur intermittently from the hills immediately south of the Heretaunga Plains right through to the Wairarapa. Rosie Butler and her husband Roger Tynan have established a successful vineyard and winery on Butler family land about 10 kilometres west of Waipawa. It adjoins a limestone quarry and is on well-developed soils overlying limestone.
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From this small enterprise, evocatively named Lime Rock, Rosie, formerlya winemaker for Montana and with considerable experience in Australia, has made distinctive wines. The Sauvignon Blanc from this vineyard has characteristics reminiscent of Marlborough rather than Hawke’s Bay. These probably relate to the greater range of temperature in Central Hawke’s Bay than on the Heretaunga Plains where maritime influences penetrate further inland. Their Pinot Noir is more similar to those of the Wairarapa than many originating from Hawke’s Bay, while their Riesling combines richness and austerity on the palate. The bouquet of this wine promises and delivers much. These wines suggest that Central Hawke’s Bay has different environmental nuances from the vineyards further north. Roger and Rosie are still learning about them.
Lime Rock is not the first vineyard to grow grapes in this geographically rather awkwardly named region. During the 1980s, both Gary and Malcolm Johansen planted vines near Takapau and the late Sir Richard Harrison planted an experimental block of vines on his farm further to the west. This encouraged John and Jo Ashworth to plant Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer on their Takapau sheep and beef farm, with the result that John became more interested in the vines than pastoral farming. Just south of Waipukurau, on the Pukekora Hill, Max, Anabelle and Kate
With a climate closer to Marlborough or Wairarapa, Lime Rock has developed distinctive wines in Central Hawke’s Bay. Lime Rock Wines Ltd
Norman have established a hillside vineyard of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay on the site of a former sanatorium. At Ongaonga to the west more Normans (Kate and Roland) are operating the Tukipo River Estate, initially supplying Sileni Estate with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.