Martinborough winemaking pioneer and neighbour Bill Brink was horrified at Mike and Margaret’s plans to plant the entire site in olives, declaring it is a crime to not plant grapes. As a result of his persuasion the site is now home to more than 6000 vines and 1100 olive trees. It produces small quantities of intensely flavoured grapes and top quality olive oil off the elevated and stony soils. The Canoes to the east and Birch Hill to the south provide idyllic views and shelter for the vines, while creating a favourable low-frost climate. The application of sustainable wine growing principles from the start, and now a transition to an organic approach, has helped to nurture and bring out the best in this terroir.
Three years after planting their vines, Mike and Margaret approached Martinborough Vineyard with the hope of establishing a relationship as growers. Nigel Elder, then MV’s viticulturist, visited the site and was excited by what he found, a brilliant soil profile and ideal surrounds for growing top quality pinot. He believed that the site would produce grapes complementary to Martinborough Vineyard’s existing plantings but also considered it had the potential to produce outstanding single vineyard wines.
Having worked in the wine industry for ten years, including vintages in Europe and Australia, Nigel recognised the potential of Martinborough pinot noir. He was involved in producing many great wines at MV alongside winemakers Larry McKenna and Claire Muholland.
Mike and Margaret formed a close relationship with Nigel in the years that followed, with Nigel acting as an advisor and helping to keep spirits high in the challenging years when crops were small. As the vineyard evolved, Nigel became increasingly impressed with the quality of the fruit and after ten years proposed producing single-vineyard wines from the site.
A series of late-night discussions held over fine pinots and pork bellies followed between Mike, Margaret and Nigel. The friends unanimously agreed that they wanted to produce hand-crafted wines of uncompromised quality, wines that would be savoured, wines that would be remembered.