Browse all our archived news below, sorted by year.
Dear Friends of Bell Hill,
We hope you are all well and that the last twelve months have been kind to you. We begin to write this letter during wet, windy weather as the rain that all our farmers have been waiting for finally comes. Now that the 2010 vintage is safely pressed and about to go into barrel after the amazing long dry autumn we had where the rain was well and truly far from the door, we welcome the rain as much as anyone else does.
Writing this letter is always a time to reflect and take stock and expressing that into words is another task. As a reference, we like to look at last year’s letter and it amazes us how much fire and energy was in it. To be honest, this year that fire and energy was mostly used to plant another 10,000 vines before Christmas and going through a challenging season that showed us you can always hope for a good autumn and, in 2010, you can get it. Did we need it? Oh, yes we did, one could feel smug about it but history reminds us that anything can be dealt out, including planting a new block one day and having 2 inches of snow the next! With the help of a great team of people we managed to get the planting done and the growing and harvesting of the 2010 vintage behind us. The biggest news from us is that Bell Hill is now fully planted! We can hardly believe it ourselves and the planting of the 10,000 vines in spring last year has given us the 6 acres of vineyard area we have been planning and working toward since our start in 1997. It has been incredibly busy in terms of the planning and doing, then a lot more doing. We have not yet updated the website with the 2008 and 2009 plantings and replantings but will do so as soon as we can and are just pleased to let you know – future wines are in the ground.
We are very happy with this vintage – from what started as a long, wet spring to an average beginning of summer and then to finally catch up at the end with such stable weather – we couldn’t ask for more – except in yield terms as a result of weather patterns during flowering.
Now for a few words on the remarkable 2007 vintage about to be released. Volumes will change in the years to come with our recent planting effort but in the meantime we have to allocate one barrel of Chardonnay – sorry - more Chardonnay will be coming from the 2008 and 2009 vintages however. We also have less of the Bell Hill Pinot Noir and Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir due to overall reduced yield so we apologise if you cannot order as much as you wish. The wines are sleepers and need time but please refer to the enclosed 2007 vintage notes for further descriptions.
So far the 2007 release has been well received by those who have tried it. The Wellington “Pinot Noir 2010” event being the best forum/stage to get feedback. In its fourth conception, the event is now one of the big Pinot Noir events in the world (it just needs more of the world to know about it). It has a top line-up of international wine press present as well as Pinot Noir lovers and trade people, and through this Singapore and Hong Kong are now new export markets for us (despite small volumes). There is real interest in New Zealand wine there and they are not afraid of lower volumes and high end wines. We had some very good quality approaches earlier this year and have decided to venture out. Our other export markets are generally going very well, always a lot of support from Australia and the UK, also Japan, but we decided to end our relationship with our US importer. We will be looking for a new agent with a slightly closer cultural and philosophical fit and in the meantime are trying to get a little wine into a couple of restaurants in San Francisco.
In New Zealand itself, we are still only available via direct mail order and in restaurants, although we had a couple of hiccups with this last year concerning rogue retail sales and as a result have parted ways (amicably) with our Auckland distributor and will take care of all of NZ ourselves. It means a little more work but is a great opportunity to develop closer relationships with our restaurant customers.
Visitors to Bell Hill were boosted through the Wellington event with Oz Clarke and Matthew Jukes visiting us. Neither had visited before and it was a pleasure to show them around, their words of encouragement were welcome and gives us energy to follow our path. Huon Hooke and Nicholas Bulleid from Australia visited in late 2009. Some of our latest reviews from these writers and others can be found within this mail-out and our website has all our reviews posted on it.
Well, another busy season lies behind us and we are pleased to offer you the 2007 wines which we feel are very balanced and have great appeal at present, however we do encourage you to give them another year or two to fully develop. As we will be visiting Burgundy in late June we will have a slight delay in getting the wines to you but please send in your order as soon as possible so that it is in our office system and can be dispatched on our return in mid July.
Thank you again for your valued support, we hope to hear from you soon and hope you’ll enjoy the 2007’s as much as we do. Stay warm and well.
With best regards,
Sherwyn and Marcel
This is a very brief message to let you know we are still here. I know we have not undated our information for some time including all the plantings in 2008 and 2009. The main thing is that we are now, after thirteen years, fully planted at Bell Hill! There is one block we would like to re-plant in the future but after putting 10,000 vines in the ground in spring 2009, we may wait a little while until these last six months become a more distant memory.
The 2010 vintage is coming along, looking a little late, meaning we will have Easter off, and it will be a wait and see vintage, we will know more when it is off the vine. We have been having some good heat and vines have a good memory for what they are supposed to do each year. It will not be a large harvest in terms of volume and although we have completed the major part of our fruit thinning, we are still making passes through the blocks to ensure even ripeness.
The 2007 vintage is our next release and we are currently working on label printing and packaging materials so that we can have the release underway in a couple of months.
We hope you are all well and will keep you posted with regard to our progress.
Sherwyn and Marcel