Expatrius Wines

Location Description

Situated on medium/steep north facing slopes right in the centre of the island.

Additional Information

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Luc Desbonnets was born in New Zealand to a French immigrant father and a New Zealand mother. Luc studied viticulture and winemaking in Bordeaux, France and began his winemaking career in 1989 in Chinon, France. Luc is the owner of “8 Vineyard” one of the two vineyards which make up Expatrius Vineyards and he has been instrumental over the past 12 years in the making of several highly sought after ultra-premium red wines from Waiheke Island where he lives with his wife and three children.

Practices & Techniques

When asked about his winemaking philosophy Luc goes on to say: “My French training offered me the unique opportunity to gain an insight into many of the inter- generational winemakers of France philosophies. Wine growing is an ancient practice and necessarily becomes an integral part of a winemaker’s daily life. In many ways this dedication to the vine within a specific environment continually teaches the grower many things about the earth, the environment, the local people and quite simply about the many virtues, values and challenges of life itself. Through this dedication I am attempting to offer my customers a certain ethereal experience that comes from each bottle of wine which we meticulously craft from our special place, over a precise period in the earths natural cycle.”

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Expatrius Vineyard on Waiheke Island, was chosen for its unique character. All the vines were selected and planted by winemaker/viticulturist Luc Desbonnets. Luc continues the daily oversight of our vineyard site and personally attends to all winemaking matters.

There are three acres of vines, incorporating six separate parcels of vines. There are two varieties destined for our red syrah wine and two for the Advenus white wine. Three rootstocks and eight different grape clones have been carefully selected to ensure that the vineyard is expressed to its full potential. Output will vary with vintage quality, but highly selective cropping will typically result in a gross output of approx. 500 cases of wine per vintage.

The Expatrius vineyard site is perched on the southern side of the island on the top of an elevated headland (55m to 65m) that juts into the tidal deep water of the Waiheke Channel. Luc describes the meso-climate of the site as “varied and fascinating with surprising warmth". He also says that the established shelter has created a wonderful micro climate in the previously exposed parts of the site. Most of the syrah was planted into sub soil rock which has meant a tough struggle for survival for many vines, but ultimately this has conferred a mystical, exceptional quality to the wines. This slightly breezy and moderately warm site favours elegance, complexity and balance in the wines.

This unique vineyard site experiences a generally warm maritime climate, with a specific meso-climate created across this site for ultra premium wine growing purposes.

The vineyard is planted at a relatively high density vine spacing with a total of 5500 vines / hectare. This encourages intense sub soil inter-vine competition which provides a smaller vine with a tendency toward low vigor and a significantly lower per vine grape yield requirement, resulting in improved wine concentration, depth of flavor and wine aging ability.

The soils vary across different parts of the site. Generally the vines are deeply rooted (2-4m) into relatively free draining yellow/brown sandy clay (1m) and weathered quartz/kaolinite rock (2-5m). The upper 1m soil contains varying degrees of chunky and fine gravels with up to 23% sand in parts particularly the Advenus vine parcels. The underlying base rock is greywacke. Consequently our 100% non-irrigated vines suffer a mild and constant stress throughout the growing season which is ideal for the cultivation of ultra-fine, age worthy and concentrated wines.


Robert Parker - RP 90+pts
The + indicates a wine with additional potential to further improve with cellaring

Upper North Island Wine Challenge 2012 (UNIWC) - GOLD medal; TROPHY Champion Red Wine; TROPHY Champion Wine of Show

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1 Margaret Reeve Lane
Waiheke Island, Auckland 1971
New Zealand

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