There’s a lot to be said for tradition. Just ask Kirk Bray of Georges Road Wines. Having excelled in his viticultural studies and immersed himself in the finest winemaking traditions across the globe, Kirk brought his expertise home to Waipara and set about establishing a tradition of his very own.
Georges Road Wines was born in 2015 with – as you may have guessed – a deep commitment to traditional winemaking techniques. First, all of the Syrah, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir fruit, is harvested by hand. Wine production is largely “hands off” explains Kirk, and involves traditional techniques such as hand plunging, natural fermentation, no fining and extended bottle maturation. More traditional still, Kirk – winemaker and winery owner – is intimately involved in every single step, from grape to glass.
“We have a commitment to meticulous viticulture which shines through in every glass,” says Kirk. “We work hard to ensure our wines are delicate, elegant and, above all, enjoyable.”
It seems the critics agree, with a bevy of awards already attributed to their range which includes the aforementioned varietals as well as the popular Rosė. Meanwhile, customers are voting with their wallets through sales online, at the cellar door and at restaurants around New Zealand.
From the eight hectares of bare, stony, free-draining land they purchased in 2003, Kirk and his wife Alison have grown their vineyard, crafted their winery and added both a cellar door tasting room and the ‘wine pod’ – a tiny B&B nestled amongst the vines with elevated views across to the rolling Three Deans Range and Mt Grey beyond. It may be a small estate, but Georges Road Wines is turning out big wines forged on rich traditions.
Why North Canterbury? I’m from Christchurch and back in the late ‘90s when I was studying winemaking, Waipara was even smaller in size than now but with obvious potential. During my 2.5 years winemaking in Germany, I became fascinated by the large number of small family owned wineries that dominated the quality wine scene, where quality was prized above quantity and where the owners were also the winemakers who made their wines without compromise and to suit their own philosophies first. I wanted to bring this back to New Zealand and, having seen its potential, Waipara was the obvious choice for me.
What’s your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? Apart from wine tasting? Getting away with the family to any of the many spectacular and out of the way places in the area.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (other than your own!). Terrace Edge, The Bone Line, Bellbird Spring: family owned, quality wines and where the owners are getting their hands dirty!