Archived News

Browse all our archived news below, sorted by year.



April 2018

Dear Friends,

Hoping this finds you all well with a good start to another year. Having been some time since I last wrote in March 2017… the 2017 harvest had its challenges and saw us turn full circle back to making base wine for a sparkling wine programme as we had in the first years at Bell Hill as an insurance if we were too high in elevation for ripening table wine consistently. We’d abandoned that plan from 2004 but as they say, never say never. We managed some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for still wine as well but in smaller volumes and the wines are quietly developing in barrel and tank where they will over-winter before bottling in spring later this year.

Winter pruning followed, along with a trip to the UK and EU for sales visits, vineyard machinery research and the general foray into Burgundy and Champagne where things make most sense to us from a vineyard planting and soil point of view. Made more purposeful with some great tastings of base wines in Champagne to help focus our thoughts and palates on the rejuvenated home project.

Spring saw the release of our 2014 wines in New Zealand that we are now happy to offer to you. Some new faces at Bell Hill – Zoe joined us for harvest last year, stayed over the winter and for the growing season, left for a harvest in Australia and will be back at pruning time; Brendan is doing well on machinery and in the vineyard; Stuart is overhauling the look of Bell Hill with new projects and putting a shine on the existing; Sarah joined us part time in the office while Brian remains indispensable in all areas, working alongside Marcel and I in the vineyard and winery, as well as in the office and in NZ sales.

The season started with a fairly mild frost season then a busy growing season with record warm/hot temperatures that we’ve not seen before – requiring ice blocks mid-afternoon to keep up the morale. A roller coaster ride to the finish of the season with a déjà vu of 2017’s cyclones in Cyclone Gita and then a couple of damp weeks before we turned the corner and entered into an amazing settled, ripening weather pattern of heat and sunshine – just when the courage was fading. But, that’s farming, sometimes things go your way eventually.

This year, we had planned for picking sparkling base wine so we got underway very early on March 16th and finished all our harvesting by April 5th, our earliest season ever. It makes sense and feels good to build upon the sparkling foundation we have from 2017 (and earlier) and we have some lovely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fermenting as I write. We started the night plunging late this week and by the end of the weekend we’ll be back into normal hours after over a month of continuous work, all making for a more settled period for catching up on things and forward planning before we come back to winter pruning, thinking about the new land developments and planting and another sales trip to the UK/EU. Planning also to update you more frequently on all things at Bell Hill…take care and we’ll be in touch again soon.
Best regards, 

Sherwyn and Marcel