Craggy Range has a different approach to management again. When the company was established, its owner, Terry Peabody, opted for employing a CEO with deep experience in New Zealand viticulture as well as knowledge of winemaking and the organisation of the industry. Steve Smith had worked as a technician with Richard Smart before running the contract vineyards of Villa Maria for George Fistonich. In these positions he had the opportunity to accumulate an intimate understanding of many sites in most Craggy Range on the wine regions of the country that he could put to good use in choosing the vineyard banks of the Tukit:uki River.
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Craggy Range land to be purchased, and other vineyards from which to source grapes. He grafted his winemaking knowledge to this rootstock.
Smith has firmly nailed his flag, and that of the company, to the terroir mast.
His terroir is soils, soils and more soils, backed up by allusions to the climatic character of Gimblett Gravels being especially warm because it is at the same latitude as Madrid. (The climate of Hawke’s Bay and the Martinborough hinterland is, however, nothing like Madrid’s.) ‘Terroir’ is also the name given to the company’s restaurant. Craggy Range was conceived as an enterprise with its winery nestled under the Craggy Range, east of Te Mata Peak, and with access to 100 hectares of vineyards on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay. Its second main vineyard is close to Martinborough in the Wellington region on the northern side of Te Muna Road. It thus encompasses the two North Island regions with the strongest reputations for the Bordeaux blends and Pinot Noir respectively.
The Craggy Range philosophy is ‘to select and source the very best vineyards in the country, plant these with only the vines that are perfectly suited to that terroir, [and] bottle them all as single estate wines’ – summed up in the marketing phrase ‘single vineyard, single minded’. The task seems difficult, if not impossible, especially as someone else may already own the very best vineyards and may not wish to sell their grapes. Nevertheless, if Steve Smith is again able to develop close relationships with enterprises already growing grapes (whether grape growers, wine companies with their own grapes, or grape growers who aspire to also make wine) he may well be able to develop a unique portfolio of single-vineyard wines by sourcing grapes from specially chosen sites.