Highfield Winery

About

Come and see Highfield TerraVin’s Tuscan inspired winery tower, which stands on the Brookby Ridge overlooking the Wairau Valley. The short climb up the tower is well worth it for the best view in Marlborough. Guests can also get a sneak preview of the inside workings of our winery by taking a walk over the footbridge in the winery.

Location Description

Located off State Highway 6 onto Godfrey Road, turn right into Dog Point Road and left into Brookby Road.

Features

  • Hand crafted food friendly wines from Marlborough New Zealand

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Winemaker

Alistair Soper – Winemaker & Director of Operations

Educated with degrees in Commerce and Arts, in 1994 Al decided to turn his passion for wine to a career. After completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology, he then paid his winemaking dues at Grove Mill for four years while also working vintages in Oregon, Bordeaux and the South of France.

Al was appointed Highfield Winemaker in January 1999 and has since made his mark with a range of award winning wines. He is especially interested in crafting wine styles that enhance, and are enhanced by, great food.

At Highfield, the goal is to make the finest quality Marlborough wines, expressive of their natural characteristics and nurtured with the bare minimum of winemaking influence. When you have exceptional grapes, minimalism is the chosen path for making great new world wines.

History

The name Highfield originates from the Walsh family, who hailed from Ireland. They purchased their 365-acre Marlborough farm in 1935 and named it Highfield after an area near Galway Bay in their homeland.

On Highfield farm the Walsh family grew crops, grazed stock and bred horses, eventually handing over the reins to their son Bill and his wife Barbara. Bill was of an entrepreneurial nature, always ready to consider a new venture, and in the mid ‘70’s when he heard that a major New Zealand wine company was considering planting grapes in Marlborough he decided to try his hand.

Bill’s first planting was 2 ½ acres of Muller Thurgau, a medium sweet German grape variety that produced wine meant for drinking young. Before long Highfield’s plantings increased. Quite by accident, Bill and another local grape grower discovered some “rogue” grapes amongst the Muller Thurgau vines in the vineyard. Unsure as to just exactly what these infiltrators were, they took cuttings. The plants that subsequently grew proved to be none other than Sauvignon Blanc. The quality of the wine produced from these grapes encouraged the Walsh family to make and market wine under their own label.

In 1990 the long-awaited opening of the Highfield winery took place and things took off. Soon after though, Bill decided to pursue a quieter life and began to look for a safe pair of hands to pass the winery on to.

He ended up finding two pairs of hands in a Japanese fire fighting industrialist, Shin Yokoi and a Bristol business man, Tom Tenuwera. A wine aficionado, Tom had always been entranced by the spectacular beauty of New Zealand and the warmth of its people. It was a sentiment shared by his old friend Shin, along with a particular interest in the ‘Champagne Trinity” of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. In 1991 Shin and Tom signed a purchase agreement for Highfield.

Shin’s company was Champagne Drappier’s sole agent in Japan, and it was not long before he invited Michel Drappier, scion of the House of Drappier, to help guide Highfield’s Méthode Champenoise, Elstree Cuvée Brut. The first Elstree made in 1993 won a gold medal at the National Wine Show of Australia in 1996. Success followed success with ensuing years earning gold medals and awards for the Elstree, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

From the outset, Shin and Tom have had high aspirations for Highfield, establishing Elstree Cuvée Brut as their flagship wine. Wine writer Bob Campbell MW recently commented, “Highfield’s Elstree Cuvée Brut is impressive with a Champagne-like finesse and power”.

Today talented Kiwi winemaker, Alistair Soper, crafts Highfield’s classic Marlborough wines with a commitment to consistency of quality and style. He traditionally makes a small and focused range of wines: Elstree Cuvée Brut, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

The Team

Frances Price – all things admin

Frances joined Highfield in August 1998 making her the longest serving member of staff. Beginning with a one day a week position this grew to be fulltime as the company grew and expanded both in the winery and restaurant.

Responsible for accounts payable/receivable, payroll, excise etc she also has been known to lend a hand where needed from washing dishes, serving food, dispatching wine orders or weeding the herb garden during lunch break.

Enjoys sport, both playing or watching; has been a Marlborough Rep Hockey player, a hockey coach, achieved her Private Pilots License, also played squash, likes to swim, cycle, currently does Boot Camp style exercise 3 mornings per week, and now learning that frustrating game called golf. Other pleasures include reading, gardening and camping.

Practices & Techniques

The Highfield winery was established in 1991, since then it has been expanded and modernised and has an annual production capacity of 600 tonnes. Through this facility, we produce our Cuvee, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot noir. The winery houses everything we need to produce our different wine styles, from fruit receival through to bottling. This means that we have full control over every aspect of the winemaking, from being able to pick our fruit at optimal ripeness through to bottling the wines when they are ready.

Processing and Fermentation

Pinot noir is handpicked and carted to the winery in 20kg crates. After being hand sorted, the grapes are then destemmed and the must is tipped into open top fermenters. During fermentation, hand plunging four times a day allows for gentle extraction of colour and tannins from the grape skins. Post fermentation, the wine is drained to French oak barrels for maturation in our dedicated barrel room. Our philosophy of minimum intervention and use of gravity enables the grapes to truly express themselves in the finished wine.

Processing facilities for our white varieties allow us to comfortably crush 70 tonnes per day.

The machine harvested fruit is brought to the winery in 8 tonne loads where it is crushed and destemmed into our two pneumatic presses. The free run juice is collected and the pressings are kept separate. The juice is then cold settled and racked to fermentation.

With tank sizes ranging from 2000 litres to 45000 litres, we are able to ferment our different vineyards and blocks separately, allowing the characters of each to show through.

Our underground barrel room maintains a cool temperature throughout the year, providing the perfect storage conditions for our Pinot noir and barrel fermented Chardonnay.

All of the Highfield wines are Estate bottled on our own bottling line with a production capacity of 1000 cases per day.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

The Wairau Valley

‘Wairau’ is the Maori word meaning ‘many waters’ and is the name of the beautiful braided river that runs alongside our largest vineyard feeding life into the vines and influencing the style of our wine. The Wairau River traces the foothills of the Richmond Ranges and has created the river flood plains of the valley over thousands of years, formed of light, stony soil which is key to the success of Marlborough’s world class style of Sauvignon Blanc. Highfield wines from the Wairau Valley area typically have intense fruit aromatics and fine minerality.

The Southern Valleys

The Southern Valleys are fast becoming renowned for top quality Pinot Noir because of the heavier clay soils, drier climate and cooler temperatures than that of the lower Wairau Valley. Some of the best Highfield Pinot Noir is sourced at Mill Stream vineyard surrounding Highfield in the Omaka Valley. Papillon Vineyard in the Brancott Valley has plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. These gentle, north facing slopes see all day sun giving strong, bright flavours to the grapes and lovely clarity and structure to the wines. Both our Southern Valley Vineyards are farmed organically.

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Hours

Our opening hours are 7 days from 10am – 4.30pm.

Address

27 Brookby Rd, RD2
Blenheim, Marlbrough
New Zealand

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