Pyramid Valley Vineyards
PVV Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2015 update by Claudia
Our tasting room is the oldest building on the property. Originally a 1920’s carriage stable it now hosts our quaint cellar door. As with most items on our property, Claudia has completely refurbished this building, adding her touches throughout to create a warm and cosy room that we enjoy hosting our guests in. Come and see why Lisa Perrotti-Brown from the Wine Advocate wrote that Pyramid Valley was her most impressive visit in all of Australasia. All tours and tastings highlight Pyramid Valley Vineyards philosophies and intent in detail and what makes this estate so special. There is also the option to create your own picnic from our deli offerings and to enjoy this in our estate gardens. The platters are a selection of the finest cheeses and cured meats that have been put together to match our wines. No need to lunch elsewhere these platters offer all the classic trimmings.
In the surrounding country side there is various activities that we enjoy as I’m sure you will as well. Home is a leisurely 1 hour drive from Christchurch, through rolling hills, with beautiful vistas that will take your breath away.
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Claudia and Mike - Owners of Pyramid Valley Wines
Claudia was born in Schleswig, Germany, and moved as a child to the U.S. She has studied fashion design, and was a skilled designer in the early 1990’s while also managing a gourmet deli in Wooodside California where she met Mike. She now brings her precise eye, two green thumbs, and a dazzling smile to the management of our home vineyards. She is happiest, and most often to be found, among her vines. Claudia is a committed biodynamicist; hers is a guiding and beautiful spirit on our land. Claudia has been managing the domestic sales and marketing since 2008, while also managing quality control during vintage, supporting the wine making team and delivering only the best fruit from the vintage through hand destemming and managing the sorting team. Claudia also supports our global markets as these areas grow from year to year and is a director of Pyramid Valley Vineyards. Claudias skills spread across the entire business model for Pyramid Valley.
Mike studied oenology and viticulture in Burgundy, beginning at the Lycee Viticole in Beaune, and continuing at the Universite de Bourgogne in Dijon. He has worked extensively in the vineyards and cellars of Europe, for producers such as Hubert de Montille, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, and Nicolas Potel in Burgundy; Jean-Michel Deiss and Marc Kreydenweiss in Alsace; and Ernst Loosen in the Mosel. He has made wine in France and in Spain for Randall Graham of Bonny DoonVineyards, vinifying in the Rhone Valley, the Languedoc-Roussillon, and the Navarra. New world vintages include apprenticeships with James Halliday at Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley of Australia, and with Russ Raney at Evesham Wood in Oregon’s Eola Hills.
Caine is Managing Director at Pyramid Valley Vineyards. He has had a significant career working within research, business start-ups and for established wine producers in New Zealand, which include Alpha Domus Winery, Mission Estate Winery, while developing New Zealand first precision viticulture business Spatial Solutions. Caine has recently completed an MBA, and will be working towards further positioning Pyramid Valley Vineyards as one of the worlds’ fine wine producers.
He is highly driven and determined in an understated humble way, which are key characteristic that have led him to achieve such accolades as NZ Young Viticulturist and Horticulturist of the year.
Brittany is Assistant Winemaker and Production Manager at Pyramid Valley Vineyards. She has had a formidable career to date working in viticulture and winemaking roles for leading producers in New Zealand with Elephant Hill and in her homeland of California. Brittany’s winemaking career began on the Central Coast working with producers such as Wild Horse and Kevin Volk before moving to Napa Valley to working alongside internationally renowned winemaker Andy Erickson for cult producers including Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle.
Brittany is a courageous and driven young women, who has always wanted to make world class Pinot Noir since her studies at Calpoly, in California.
She now has that chance.
“Working with Mike Weersing is fabulous. His philosophies, persistence and sheer determination are what I love about Mike and Pyramid Valley.
“This combination of talents is exciting for Pyramid Valley, and the future looks very bright with our tight team” Claudia Weersing.
Struan is our cheerful and enthusiastic vineyard manager. Struan meticulously cares for our 2.2ha vineyard overseeing and managing all aspects of the vine and soil health to allow the vines to express their voice through fruit.
Nothing is ever a problem for Struan. You will find him scaling the slopes of our hillside vineyards pruning all 23,000 vines himself in the winter, to weeding all the blocks, lateral thing, bunch thinning and hand picking/desteeming. Struan treats every vine as an individual with meticulous care and attention to detail while supported by biodynamics inputs and practices. Struan comes to us with a diverse background in sales, tour operations and Horticulture and in all parts of our small operation at Pyramid Valley.
Over the past four years Pyramid Valley has created a youth work program managed by Struan. All students are taught skills needed in viticulture from bud burst to Pruning. Students are found in our local community and have an early start to hands on work experience while working with groups of all ages.
Practices & Techniques
Mike among the vines at Pyramid Valley
For example, all of our wines are fermented with their own yeast starters, cultured every year, from the vineyard itself. If wine is meant to be the bottled breath of a certain place, from a certain moment in time, then we feel that working with yeasts from that site, of that season, is an important step towards transparency and authenticity. Our cultures allow very long, very regular ferments: most of our whites ferment for more than a year. During this time, the wine is protected, so no sulphur is necessary. After so long a ferment, the wine is stable: thus most of our wines are bottled unfiltered, again with little or no sulphur.
Each wine is allowed to flower as it wishes. If the Pinot Blanc stops with 4 grams RS, so be it. If the Gewurztraminer ferments to dryness, that is its choice. As my friend and hero Edmond Vatan once replied when I asked him about malolactic fermentation, “Pwah, le malo, si ca se fait, ca se fait.
So, at home we’ve sponsored a marriage of clay-limestone soils to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, hoping to bring to the wine world a special, new place-voice. With the Growers Collection, we are allowed to work with admired colleagues, and with sites, soils, varieties different than those at home. All of our wines are devoted to people and place; all bring rich rewards of community.
The home vineyard has been established according to rules that Mike grew to respect and inherently to trust during his time studying and working in Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been planted, on clay-limestone soils on scarp slopes, at a density of 10,000-12,000 vines per hectare. The vineyard has been biodynamically managed from inception.
Each block is planted to reflect a specific soil type hence the somewhat irregular looking blocks. In total we have only 2.2 hectares planted in 4 separate blocks. The differences you can taste reflects the soil and climatic differences between each block, which is never more than 400 metres at most. We vinify each block and variety separately but identically in a mixture of old oak and clay amphorae so the outside influences on the grape are minimised.
The blocks themselves were named by Claudia after the weed varieties predominant in each, which also reflect the different soil. The Angel Flower is a more exposed block, north facing that reflects a lightness, delicacy and an ethereal scent. The Lions Tooth with its golden dandelions and obvious lime rich soil shows a rich golden colour with a toasty sulphite nose. The Earth Smoke is heavier clay, with a denser, wild, gamey outcome. The Field of Fire slopes away to an eastern aspect and into the heaviest clay and makes typically a green-hued delicate wine.
Today, we are fully certified Bio dynamic. Our cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and vineyard family share in the journey of Bio dynamics and benefit from the gifts it gives.
Estate Vineyards / AVA
We attempt to improve our home with each day. We treat our whole farm with biodynamic preparations and we work to provide produce and various foods for our staff and families We have an extensive vegetable garden that we have all developed to provide year round food for us all, combined with beef, pork and chicken from the property as well. This is the way life use to be and I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to be at home and to truly live and experience life in this way.
In 2001 Mike and Claudia started collecting local native plant seeds to re vegetate the farm. With large sacks in hand slopes had been climbed to find trees and shrubs that supplied seeds for us to propagate. The Doctors Hills, Mt.Cass and the Scargill Valley allowed for plants that would be hardy for all conditions. With the support of Chris Todd ,The Department of Conservation we identified all plants and the odd native insect as well. A wetland area was created around our pond and Spring Face for native birds. Paradise shell ducks, Pukeko, Pewaiwaka (fantails), Pyde Stilts, Heron, Teal, Bellbirds and many others are now part of our animal life at Pyramid Valley. We even have the great Falcon on our slopes now.
Going forward our goal is to continue collecting the seedlings from these native plants and replant where we desire. We currently have 20,000 plants standing strong including: Cabbage Trees, Flax, Tui Tui, Coprosma, Carex, Totara, Beech, Olearia, Pittosporum and Hebe to name a few.
Our friends and visitors often enjoy various activities while at Pyramid Valley which include hill sliding, harvesting veggies, brushing the pig, enjoying the stars and sunsets, swimming in the pond, BBQs, making pickles and cheese with friends and heroes that shape our lives.
Activities in the area include regular Rodeos, Old Weka Pass Train Ride, Trek to Ancient Maori Cave Drawings, Stock Auctions, Veggie/Fruit Stands, Largest Arciological site of Moa bones in the Southern Hemisphere to name a few.
Our property tours show and capture this way of life. You and your family and friends are welcome to join us.