Waipara River Estate – Our Vision
- establish a boutique vineyard using sustainable winegrowing practices
- produce premium, handcrafted estate grown wines with superb style and elegance
- develop a small number of luxury vineyard accommodation units
- sustainably improve pastures for grazing
The Vineyard & ‘terroir’ in Mackenzies Rd
Waipara River Estate has upgraded the vineyard to the latest sustainable standards, producing Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon & Gewürztraminer grapes for our Waipara River Estate label.
The property includes a 3.5 hectare vineyard of the earliest vines planted in Waipara in the 1980s by John McCaskey. These old deep rooted vines are on their own roots and are phylloxera free, producing wines with a greater depth and intensity than newer vines.
The vineyard is located on the western side of the valley on post-glacial river terraces formed by the Weka River, a tributary of the Waipara River. Soils are free-draining, medium to light gravely, silty, loam deposits interspersed with limestone. The relatively low fertility, but good natural pH, reduces vine vigour producing low yields of grapes of high quality and flavour.
Mackenzies Road rises almost imperceptibly towards the west so that the vineyard is 70m higher than Waipara village. Luckily we seldom get the late spring frosts from which the eastern side suffers. The Waipara Valley is protected from cool easterly winds by Mt Cass and the Teviotdale Hills, but is subject to Canterbury’s warm, hot, dry Nor-Westers, so pine and macrocarpa shelter belts provide good protection.
Although designated as a cool climate wine growing area, the area has a typical Mediterranean style climate, characterised by hot summers with many days over 30C and low rainfall during the growing season that ensure vines like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are able to fully ripen. By harvest time in late April–May, the long warm days and cool nights (often an ‘Indian summer’) provide excellent conditions for producing the high quality fruit flavours and natural acidity that are required for producing premium quality wines.
Cool winters with some frosts followed by days with clear blue skies are characteristic of Waipara. When snow is on the surrounding mountains it is spectacularly beautiful.
This distinctive terroir means that Waipara produces superb Rieslings that range from sweeter to crisp dry styles and now elegant Pinot Noirs. Over 30 years this vineyard, formerly as Glenmark Wines, won some 45 medals including several Gold medals and a New Zealand Champion. Now as Waipara River Estate we have won national medals in Bragato, Air New Zealand & New World Wine awards as well as Champion Wine of Canterbury 2016 for our Late Harvest Noble Riesling 2013. This wine was awarded silver in the International Wine & Spririts Competition in London 2016.
The property is well fenced into 7 paddocks. Pastures have been re-established in a sustainable manner using sequential crops – peas, oats, Italian rye, permanent grasses and lucerne to naturally improve the soil structure and raise the fertility to provide feed for stock. We have upgraded fences, gates, driveways and planted new shelter belts to protect stock from the Nor-Wester and Southerly. All sheds have been re-clad, strengthened and upgraded.