All of our wines are estate grown at Bell Hill and go back to our first four vintages of Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir from 1999 to 2002 before our inaugural Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2003 vintage and Bell Hill Chardonnay 2004 vintage.
A very warm September initiated early budburst followed by a very cold October and November (the coolest on record). We had four frosts and suffered around 20% yield losses as a result of pump failure on our overhead sprinkler system during one of the frosts. The hillside Shelf block was affected by frost for the first time and overhead sprinklers have now been installed there.
A summer drought with high sunshine hours resulted in good fruit set and growth until the end of March. Temperatures were slightly below average with cool nights. We had some rain in early April which relieved the drought, this kept us busy in the vineyard with extra leaf plucking to allow good air movement in the canopy, ensuring fruit quality and low botrytis levels.
The harvest began on 16 April with the Shelf and on 17 April with the Limeworks Pinot Noir blocks. The Quarry Pinot Noir Rootlings were picked on 17 April and the Quarry Pinot Noir 10/5 was picked on 3 May. The Shelf, Limeworks and Rootlings fruit (clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, 5) went into one fermenter to become the first Bell Hill Pinot Noir (23 Brix, 3.44 pH, 7.58 g/L TA) and the Quarry 10/5 (23.8 Brix, 3.42 pH, 8.5 g/L TA) became our Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir, along with one barrel from the Bell Hill lot. This means the makeup of Old Weka Pass Road was not changed as it still includes some Dijon clonal material to around the same proportion as in the past (the Rootlings had been very light cropping until the 2003 vintage). The Chardonnay was picked on 6 May. It was a small crop for evaluation purposes only.
Winemaking for the Pinot Noir involved hand sorting and destemming of the fruit using open rollers, followed by a seven to eight day cold maceration pre-ferment and a five day fermentation with a short two to three day post-ferment maceration time.