Winemaker Sam Bennett says demand has been booming over the 18 months, so the short 2021 vintage, with low yields in Marlborough, was an unwelcome shift. "But we have bottled more wine than we ever have before." The company usually splits its business between supplying wine for buyer-own brands and its own branded products, "so we are able to increase by changing a percentage of that split".
Sam says with high prices on offer, the company "certainly" would have made more money by selling its wine on the open market. "But we have doubled down on building our brands and trying to support our customers." There's a lot of opportunity in international markets for companies with bottled products to sell, he says.
The branded te Pā Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc is now in Tesco - which also carries the label's Pinot Noir - as well as in Morrisons and Asda. Meanwhile the Montford Estate Sauvignon Blanc was recently taken on by Greene King, which is the UK's largest pub chain.
Owner and founder Haysley MacDonald says the first te Pā wine was bottled in October 2011, after the one-time potato country was transformed into vineyard. "Who'd have thought I'd be here, 10 years later?" It's taken a long time to build the business up, he says, and "every day is like starting all over again, becasue we're always wanting to do better so there's no rest". The 10-year anniversary is a reason to pause, "and reflect on how far we've come, and where we've still got to go in the future".