In our overview, we rated six wineries “superb.” In roughly the order we tasted them, we’ll pick review them one at a time. Today Craggy Range is featured.
We first wrote about this marvelous event at the end of March. Sadly, projects that actually pay income came along and kept us busy. But we have notes, audio and video recording, and photos. So let’s get back to work.
We were greeted by Janet Pouchon who offered us a 2013 pinot noir. The Craggy Range 2013 Te Muna Road Martinborough opens with a soft mineral aroma leading to a light mineral palate. We rate this very light and very good. Next time your dinner partner orders fish and you order a steak, this one is what you want. Price (excluding shipping) is 45.95 NZD, 33.68 USD, exchange rate as of June 30, 2017.
Before we go into the winery’s history, we recommend a long visit to their website. It’s informative, well-written, and the images are stunning. If you’ve ever thought of visiting New Zealand, we recommend opening a new browser tab to your favorite travel planning website. And have a credit card handy.
Craggy Range, in the pioneering spirit of New Zealand, has a fascinating history. They were among the first New Zealand wineries. From their website:
In 1993, Terry Peabody and his wife Mary decided they wanted to create a family legacy, one that could be handed down to future generations. They decided they would create a wine estate somewhere in the world with their desire stemming from the family’s love of fine wine. There was one condition – Terry didn’t want to buy into an existing vineyard, rather he wanted to select bare land, an untouched site to ensure a focus on quality from the very beginning.
Their search for a winery began traditionally enough, in France and America then spreading to Australia. An opportunity then brought Terry to the edge of the world – to New Zealand – a land of mountains, fire and ice. Here he saw the potential he hadn’t seen elsewhere – the country’s exceptional climate, a rich history in farming the land and the pioneering spirit of the people.
Assisted by “noted kiwi viticulturist Steve Smith,” Terry found sites in Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes’ Bay, and Te Muna Road (Martinborough). The sites were acquired in 1997. Later they added a small plot in Marlborough. And they also own the Giants Winery where they operate the tasting room, a restaurant and accommodations. See Visit below for details.
Terry and Mary Peabody are the owners and founders of Craggy Range:
Terry Peabody is Chairman and owner of Craggy Range, providing the direction, resources, business acumen and determination for growth. By any measure, East Coast American born Terry is one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs with his success in building waste management and transportation companies and business interests extending from the USA and Canada to Europe, Asia Australia and New Zealand.
Mary Peabody has an extensive background in the hospitality business in Canada and Australia and Craggy Range’s renowned, award-winning ‘Terrôir’ restaurant is one of her focuses. Fine food and wine were very much a part of her upbringing in Pennsylvania, USA and that has continued. Terrôir was conceived as a beautiful setting in which to share with friends, family and fellow enthusiasts.
The two have put the winery into a 1,000-year trust. After that, the winery can be sold.
Matt Stafford is the chief winemaker:
Since graduating from Lincoln University with a BSC majoring in Soil Science and a post-graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology, Chief Winemaker Matt Stafford has travelled extensively throughout the world, working with grapes from a variety of wine regions including France, California, Australia and New Zealand. It was back in 2001 when Matt first discovered Craggy Range and corresponded with Steve Smith MW about the exciting soils that had just been planted, later joining the team in 2006.
In every photo we’ve seen, Matt looks like he’s having lots of fun.
The national vineyards manager is Daniel Watson:
National Vineyards Manager Daniel Watson, based at the Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, oversees the Craggy Range vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough. Daniel applies the philosophy of ‘footprints in the vineyard’ ensuring the vineyards are carefully managed allowing the unique contributions of soils to naturally flow through to the finished wines. With a passion for cool climate wines, Daniel spends as much of his time outdoors enjoying the Hawke’s Bay with his loyal pooch, Biff by his side.
Using the latitude and longitude for each vineyard, we created the Google maps below. Note that tasting, accommodations, food, and other amenities are at the Giants Winery. If you plan to visit the vineyards you’ll have to settle for a view from the road.[pullquote]A place of warmth and gravelly soils[/pullquote]
Gimblett Gravels Vineyard is part of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District. In 1876 the Ngaruroro River changed course. A field of gravel was left behind. Since then sand has filled in the gaps. Add a warm climate and cool nights, and you have grape-growing paradise. The winery grows syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay.
Located in the Hawkes’ Bay region, you can find the vineyard at 39˚ 35′ 57.2″S 176˚ 44′ 5.6″E
Te Muna Road Vineyard is seven kilometers southeast of Martinborough. The vineyard has two terraces. The upper terrace is old and rocky with lots of clay, perfect for pinot noir. The lower terrace is younger rocky soil interspersed with limestone. Sauvignon blanc is grown there. “Te Muna” means “the secret.”
Located in the Martinborough region, you can find this vineyard at 41° 16′ 41.3″S 175° 29′ 3.7″E
Avery Vineyard is in one of the warmer spots in the justifiably famous Marlborough district. According to the current wine offerings, only sauvignon blanc is being made from grapes from Avery.
Visitors who want tastings, accommodations, and food are directed to the Giants Winery (owned by Craggy Range). Search for 253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North 4294, New Zealand. For phone numbers, look under the “Visit” tag on the Craggy Range home page.
There are several one- and two-bedroom cottages, as well as four rooms in the main lodge. There are three two-bedroom cottages and one single. The low season rate is NZD400 per night (about USD293.20) and high season is NZD450 per night (about USD329.85). Interestingly, the rate is the same for one- and two-bedroom accommodations. The lodge must be rented in its entirety for NZD2,000 per night (about USD1,465.95).
At Terrôir Restaurant, the menu is seasonal. Many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s garden. A quick glance shows a distinct resemblance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Plan on spending between NZD133-183 (USD97.49-134.14) for three courses and wine. Better yet, check the complete menu and wine list on the restaurant page.
Craggy Range rates a “must visit” if you’re in New Zealand. While a road trip touring the vineyards may seem like a good idea, we recommend starting at the Giants Winery to do a little wine-tasting, eat lunch or dinner, and get to know the winery.