Archived News

Browse all our archived news below, sorted by year.



February 2020

Dear Friends of Bell Hill,

Hoping the early part of 2020 has begun well for you and a good year ahead is in store for all of us. We’re now toward the end of our intensive active growing season - the nets are on, we came through a good flowering and fruit set period, the crop is looking balanced and we’ve completed our yield adjustments with the exception of a late, “green harvest” fine-tune which we’re embarking on now. Things are very dry here, with no relief from the drought, we hope the vines will make their way steadily to the ripening finish line without too much impediment from the dry conditions and strong winds.

We are looking forward to the harvest and the fact that we have more fruit to work with than last season. You may remember that frequent rain during flowering resulted in a loss of crop of around half the normal amount. This was a little hard to bear given the cyclonic challenges of the two seasons prior and the hope that, with the 2019 vintage, we would be able to add to our sparkling base wine stocks and put down a cuvee blend from 2017, 2018 and 2019 plus start a solera system of reserve base wine to build from. Not to be, but just a set-back of one season and we’re able to continue in 2020. Sparkling wine will be a long-term project for us so what’s another year…wine regions in NZ are continuing to set records with early harvest starts and this looks to be repeated this year, we expect to be starting in mid-March for sparkling wine.

The 2016 wines have quietly been biding their time and you saw the early release of the Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir last year with the 2015 wines. We managed to hold a little of this over for this release to accompany the Bell Hill Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We have a Single Block Chardonnay requiring more time, so we plan to release that with the 2017 wines. 2018 gave us a small Single Block blend of Pinot Noir so we are moving ahead in the direction of being able to express small parcels of fruit from our various blocks when nature is kind to us.

Travels this past year have seen us firmly placed within NZ only, mostly to do with exploring nature. We have some travel planned for mid-year including representing North Canterbury in Vancouver as part of a NZ Winegrowers seminar series and sales work in the US before continuing to Europe with the necessary trip to Burgundy of course.

Our team is doing well, and we’ve had a lot of projects on at Bell Hill. Some of it renewing the old – lots of pest control, landscaping, and rejuvenating some of the buildings and gardens we started in the early years, plus on-going completion of the winery area and cellar space…and some completely new directions such as developing a wetland adjacent to our reservoir for native plant and bird habitat, discovering a new moa deposit site down there along the way, and cementing our plans for a new stage of vine planting on the North Arm. Putting in tracks and a new access from this northern part of the property is the first step to undertake, and the vine planting parcels will start to take some shape for spring 2020 as well as the scope for more animals, truffle trees, and other food production efforts. So far, our animal kingdom is based around poultry of various kinds and a cat, but we have room and plans for more.

Our journalistic reviews have continued to support our direction which is gratifying, and we really believe it is our efforts in the vineyard that find their way into the glass. This month has seen us celebrate 23 years of signing up for the purchase of Bell Hill, a milestone celebration coming up over the next couple of years.

Thanks for reading our news. We wish you well for 2020 and thank you for being part of our story at Bell Hill.

Best regards,

Sherwyn and Marcel.