Te Mata Estate in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, was founded in 1896. The property was acquired by John and Wendy Buck in 1978, and is currently run by Nicholas Buck, the Estate Director, who has been with the winery, as he puts it, for “life”. Fortunately, I met Nick in person today, since his answers to my Q&A (below) in advance of my trip, were terse and cheeky. Turns out, he’s a super affable guy surrounded by a lovely team of folks that treat each other like family. Winemaker Peter Cowley has been crafting their iconic Bordeaux blend Coleraine for the nearly 30 years of its production, and this afternoon, the fantastic Mr. Larry Morgan drove me around vineyard sites, and introduced me to the hardworking Czechs (not chicks, as I later found out) who help net the vines to prevent birds from nibbling grapes as they ripen.
A few words from the winery’s site:
Te Mata Estate was established in 1896, specialising in high-quality wines of classical style. All steps in the production of our wines are undertaken by us, from grape growing and pruning through to winemaking and bottling. Today, Te Mata Estate is recognized as one of New Zealand’s most iconic and prestigious wine producers, making nearly 40,000 cases a year of premium wine and exporting to over 40 countries.
Regarding the physical winery, horse stables, constructed in the 1870s, were converted into a winery by the Chambers family in the 1890s, and are today the centre of Te Mata Estate’s winemaking. The winery has since been updated in design, with the aim to create a modern wine-making complex that reflected the character of the landscape. Specializing in in-fill architecture and innovative modernist design, Athfield Architects created a series of buildings to reflect the art deco heritage of Hawke’s Bay and the art nouveau heritage of the original Chambers homestead.
Signature Wines and Prices:
- Coleraine NZ$90
- Awatea Cabernet/Merlot NZ$40
- Bullnose Syrah NZ$50
- Elston Chardonnay NZ$40
- Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc NZ$30
- Zara Viognier NZ$30
What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? Maximising the potential of Te Mata Estate.
What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? Disrupting the wine world status quo.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of grapegrowing/winemaking in your region? Hawke’s bay’s ability to produce world leading wines across an array of wine styles.
What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? The growing international recognition of the absolute quality of Hawke’s Bay’s best wines.
How do you think Americans perceive NZ wines? Source of widely available, inexpensive, reliable, good qpr, light-bodied, straight-forward, aromatic, fruity, white wines.
What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Least? Favorite = Sonoma; Least = Napa.
Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Cabernet Sauvignon.
What do you drink at home when relaxing? Wine.
How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? Family.
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? Mars.
Give one surprising fact about yourself. Alternative career ambition was an astronaut.