Di Holding has been called a “Pinot Noir obsessive” and it’s a title she is happy to own. The ‘obsession’ started decades ago when Di set out to find the perfect site on which to grow Pinot Noir. She knew exactly what she was looking for and, in 2002, she found it: 13.8 hectares of dusty, windswept hillside in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury. Whilst unremarkable to most, what Di and husband Ian saw was a treasure trove of perfect limestone soil that would grow the best, organic Pinot Noir grapes.
In 2002, Di and Ian Holding bought the property that is now Fancrest, bringing to an end Di’s long search for the perfect site to grow Pinot Noir.
13.8 Ha of dusty windswept North Canterbury hillside. Quite unremarkable but for the limestone scarp above the fan, hinting at the valuable limestone soil beneath the rugged, semi-arid pasture.
The land is on Waipara’s “Golden Mile” and had been coveted by winemakers for years. With some considerable persistence, Di and Ian made sure it was soon theirs.
Most of the initial Pinot Noir plantings were completed by 2004, with just a small amount planted in 2008. Their first harvest from the initial plantings was 2006.
Two decades later, Fancrest Estate remains essentially a one-man band, with Di at the helm, and Di’s husband, Ian, supporting her in her venture. They make certified organic natural wines from their Pinot Noir vineyard including still red and rosé.
Why North Canterbury?
What made Omihi so appealing apart from having the perfect soils for pinot noir was its access to SH1 and its proximity to a major city. This meant Ian could continue his medical career without interruption. The hour commute is now only 50min. Ideal for us both. Also the quality of North Canterbury’s country golf courses really appealed to Ian. North Canterbury had it all to make a great lifestyle choice.
What’s your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury?
My favourite is that it’s big sky country. The sense of wide open spaces, fresh unpolluted air and isolation suits me. I love my own company and working the farm on my own frees up my head space and recharges my energy. Our view over the valley from the crest of the fan is to die for. And it doesnt fail to take visitors’ breath away. Working with the farm animals (from huge cattle beast and smaller sheep then wild Guinea fowl and dung beetles through to microscopic soil funghi and bacteria) keeps me grounded and happy; in my element.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands: