About Our Vineyard


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Our vineyard

Waipara River Estate is a boutique vineyard that has been accredited as sustainable by New Zealand Wine. There is information here about Sustainable Winegrowing NZ.

The distinctive terroir produces premium quality handcrafted estate grown wines with superb style and elegance.

We have some of the earliest vines planted in Waipara in the 1980s by pioneering winegrower John McCaskey. These old deep rooted vines are on their own roots and form the current Waipara River Estate vineyard in the block that we call ‘The Original Vineyard’. The old vines produce wines with a greater depth and intensity than newer vines. For over 20 years as Glenmark Wines, this vineyard won some 45 medals including several Gold medals and a New Zealand Champion – a tradition we are upholding.

We replanted several rows of experimental, non-commercial vines with new Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer clones on rootstock especially suited to Waipara conditions.

The main varieties at Waipara River Estate are Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Sauvignon. Waipara may not be well known for Cabernet Sauvignon, but our vines are old, gnarly and deep rooted with fruit that sets beautifully and produces our full flavoured full bodied Bordeaux style wine.

The terroir of our vineyard

169 Mackenzies Rd, Waipara: Latitude 43° South

The vineyard is located on the North Western side of the Waipara River 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, loams interspersed with limestone. The relatively low fertility, but good natural pH, reduces vine vigour, producing low yields of grapes of high quality and flavour.

Waipara is designated as a cool climate wine growing area (15°C in the month before harvest) so grapes ripen just before winter. However, it has a typical Mediterranean style climate, with hot, dry summers with many days over 30C and cool nights. Winter frosts are followed by clear blue skies and although snow seldom falls in the valley, it may linger on nearby mountains making the winter spectacularly beautiful.

The Waipara Valley is protected from cool easterly sea breezes by Mt Cass and the Teviotdale Hills. Our pine and macrocarpa shelter belts provide protection from Canterbury’s strong, hot, dry Nor’westers. Mackenzies Road rises gently towards the west so that our vineyard, about 100m above sea level, seldom suffers late spring frosts.

The warm days and cool nights before harvest in late April–May, provide excellent conditions that produce the balance between sugar, acid & pH levels achieving the high quality fruit flavours and natural acidity essential for producing premium quality wines.

The distinctive terroir with summer heat and low rainfall ensures that our grapes fully ripen and we produce superb, classic Riesling, spicy Gewürztraminer, elegant Pinot Noir; and a Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Viticulture Notes

We aim for premium quality wine, so viticulturist Gwyn Williams ensures that our vines get the very best of care.

To ensure high quality wine, the vines must not be overcropped and fruit needs to be its best, so much of the work is labour intensive – unwanted shoots are removed,  bunches thinned, and leaves removed to expose bunches to ripen.  In summer we net the vines to prevent birds from eating the crop.

Riesling in the original vineyard.

Riesling about to be harvested.

Pinot Noir before harvest.

New vines.