OUR HISTORY – The first 25 Years
MAKING WINE WITH A POINT OF DIFFERENCE.
Philip Jones and Sheryl Jones have been interested in wine for most of their lives. After moving to New Zealand in 1988 they planted their first vineyards. It became apparent to Philip very early in the game that he wanted to do things a little different than the average Kiwi winemaker. Perhaps training at the University of California and his European background had something to do with it.
They elected to plant vineyards in the Moutere Hills of Nelson rather than the popular Marlborough area. They felt that the rolling hills with their gravelly clay loam's would provide the wines with a bit more complexity than those planted on the flat plains. The ability to grow the vineyard non-irrigated was a plus although quality at the expense of yield.
When it came to wine making things were done differently. Oak aged Sauvignon Blanc in the Fume style were made. It was felt the Moutere Hills were better suited to this style than Marlborough.
Chardonnay was his favorite and the use of American oak in its flavor profile....which was unheard of in New Zealand Chardonnay. Under the Tasman Bay label thee coveted Mission Hill Chardonnay trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.
Spencer Hill was one of the first to make Pinot Gris in New Zealand which we felt was a perfect grape for the Moutere Hills.
And we understood the need for small batch fermentation with Pinot Noir.
Over the years additional vineyards were planted and brands added. Goose Bay wines were developed for the kosher market throughout the world. No one had thought to do this in New Zealand. The highly successful Latitude 41 range was added in 2002. It is a blend of Nelson and Marlborough grapes resulting in a wine that offers the best of both areas.
Spencer Hill Coastal Ridge wines are some of the best produced in New Zealand being compared with Vasse Felix, Cullen, Leeuwin Estate and Mates Vineyard.
Although innovation is no stranger to Spencer Hill we do not get involved in "trends" such as biodynamic farming and natural wines. We believe in making the best wine possible and leave these beliefs and short lived trends to others.
We were the first in New Zealand to use synthetic corks, Diam corks and Zork closures. We were also the first to use native yeasts for our entire range of red wines. Cold fermentation in tanks with oak was another innovation first used by Spencer Hill. Small batch fermentation of our red wines, using enclosed fermenter bags, was introduced in New Zealand by Spencer Hill. It is our commitment to using the best ideas, whether traditional or new, to make the best wines possible.
Viticulture innovation saw Spencer Hill introducing Pinot Gris and Viognier to the Nelson area, which is now developing a reputation for its aromatic wines. We introduced the use of steel posts to the Nelson area thus reducing the effects on the environment from treated wood posts. In site selection, our Coastal Ridge vineyards are the only ones planted in that part of Tasman Bay. The wines made from this vineyard are exceptional.
Sustainability and Integrated Pest Management
Our philosophy of sustainable viticulture is to grow our grapes with a soft approach, using Integrated Pest Management and striving to reduce man's input. It is an approach that requires well trained individuals to carefully monitor the vines. To enhance the biodiversity we have planted many trees and shrubs in areas around the vineyards. We have also established many ponds on the properties. These strategies allow wildlife and beneficial insects to thrive. All of our vineyards are grown without irrigation, providing powerful fruit flavours and saving valuable water resources.
In the winery we use bio-degradable chemicals for cleaning and have a catchment pond for waste water. Electrical use is minimised by constantly reviewing equipment requirements. For example, the use of floatation equipment, rather than filtering saves time, power and reduces waste. Our own label printing and bottling line improves customer service by quick, efficient bottling on demand. We strive to save money and resources where ever possible.