Wairau River Wines own 330 hectares of vineyards across ten blocks around Rapaura in Marlborough, New Zealand.
Established by Phil and Chris Rose in 1978, Wairau River Wines is one of Marlborough’s largest family owned wine growing operations.
We spoke with Hamish, Phil and Chris’ son, who was brought up amongst the vines and now oversees the Vineyards.
Hamish tells us his brother, Sam, is the Winemaker and his three sisters and 2 brothers-in-law are also integral to the business, which also has its own bottling plant and an acclaimed Winery Restaurant and Cellar Door.
Primarily growing Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau River Wines grow a variety of grapes and export 80 percent of their wines.
The winery now handles 5500 tonnes of grapes each season. With the intention to not only maintain the land but improve it for the next generation, Wairau River choose sustainable methods such as returning the marc (grape skins) back to the vineyards by spreading them under the rows as compost.
Hamish tells us they have been hit by frosts prior to having frost fans. One year they only got 180 tonnes off a block that usually delivers 2000 tonnes of grapes.
“The two frost fan machines on our colder Wairau block save the crop every year”, says Hamish.
Before installing fans, they used helicopters but they were expensive. Fans take the risk out of it by covering all the sensitive areas. They plan to cover more areas susceptible to being ‘tickled up’ by frost with fans over the next few years. “In those areas you see shoot damage and might lose 5% of the crop. There’s may be a slight hollow where you’ll see a few plants where the shoots are fried”, says Hamish.
Wairau River Wines strive to make the best wines they can; their Pinot Gris was a trophy winner in the 2016 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. At the same time, “security of supply is also important and something we have to manage when the difference in volume between a good and bad vintage may be 20% to 30%. All it takes is a poor couple of weeks over flowering for the Sauvignon Blanc.”
As well as using frost fans, Hamish explains they manage the risk and uncertainty of weather patterns by having a number of sites with their furthest vineyard at Dillons Point on the other side of Blenheim.
Hamish uses locally manufactured FrostBoss® fans from New Zealand Frost Fans because of their advanced technology and quiet running which is within the noise regulation requirements of Marlborough District Council.
Impressed by the level of service and support, he has since purchased FrostBoss® C49 fans and a FrostBoss® C59 five blade fan, which runs even more quietly than the C49, for their Kaituna block which has neighbours nearby.*
To find out more about Wairau River Wines go to www.wairauriverwines.com
- The erection and use of frost fans in Marlborough is a controlled activity with changes to noise regulations in relation to their use coming into effect in September 2014. The regulations require frost fans to not exceed 55dB at a distance of 300 metres. The FrostBoss™ C49 (4 blade fan) develops 55dB at 240 metres (51dB at 300 metres) and the FrostBoss™ C59 (5 blade fan) develops 55dB at 180 metres (49dB at 300 metres). For full details of these regulations, refer to www.marlborough.govt.nz or contact New Zealand Frost Fans on 06 879 7312 or firstname.lastname@example.org .