Previous Vintages

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.


The Bell Hill Pinot Noir spent 12 months in French oak barriques of which 80% was new. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous in late spring and finished in January 2004. The wine was racked in May and cold stabilised before bottling with no filtration in August 2004. Analysis at bottling was 3.50 pH, 5.79g/L TA, 13.3% alcohol and 698 bottles were made.

The wine shows an evolution of individual characters that we have seen in the Pinot Noirs from our previous vintages. It is the combination of those individual components that add to its elegance, power and finesse, and earn this vintage its place as our first Bell Hill Pinot Noir.

The aromatics of the Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2003 show complexity and a tightly woven fruit focus with spice and earthy hints. On the palate the wine expresses textural yet supple tannins that support the black fruits and add to its length. An integral part of its structure is the perceptive acidity resulting from the chalk soils on which it is grown. The wine is held for a year in bottle before release and will benefit from further ageing.


The Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir spent 10 months in French barriques of which 40% was new. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and finished in January 2004. The wine was racked in February and cold stabilised before filtration and bottling in April 2004. Analysis at bottling was 3.56 pH, 6.17 g/L TA, 13.4% alcohol and 1656 bottles were made.

The Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2003 shows dried herb and primary fruit with briar undergrowth hints on the nose. Savoury notes follow on the palate with a delicate entry and poised acidity. The palate is textural with fruit sweetness and a dry finish. A vibrant, youthful wine that is silky and elegant. This wine is also held for a year in bottle before release.