It comes with the purchase of Kaimira Estate, a vineyard replant, Tasteology cellar door, canning line and the perfect partnership of cider and wine, says General Manager Blair Gibbs.
Winelord was already making its Middle-Earth and Brightwater Gravels wine labels at Kaimira Estate’s winery when it bought the Brightwater facility and surrounding vineyards last August. Since then it’s been busy days, with cellar door specialists Tasteology brought in to manage the cellar door experience, while the winery is brought up to speed, says Blair.
That’s included the installation of a canning line for the company’s Plus Six4 range. Blair says there is a perception that canned wines are cheap and lower quality, but the range is made with grapes harvested and wines made specifically for the range. The wines - Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Rose and Chillable Red - are all sparkling, with bright fruit flavours, created specifically for the US market where canned wine is the category growth leader, he says.
The fact that cans can be easily recycled, and are lighter and tighter to ship, makes it a good environmental choice, which appeals to an increasingly conscious consumer, and in particular Millennials, he says.
Winelord is owned by Nelson local Rob Grey, who first started converting his dairy farm to vineyards back in 1996. In 2011, his daughter Kylie and her husband Ryan O’Connell moved back to Brightwater and launched Middle-Earth wines with Rob, bringing winemaker Trudy Sheild onto the team two years ago, after which it moved to the Kaimira winery in a contract capacity.
The same year, Ryan and Trudy set up Capital Cider, tapping into Nelson’s apple bounty as well as its growing reputation as a cider centre, says Blair. These days Capital Cider is under the Winelord umbrella, and provides a great opportunity to utilise the winery fully, because as soon as wine tanks are empty of wine they are ready for the next batch of cider. He says the dual offering is a refreshing twist for visitors too, including those taking a break from the Great Taste Cycle Trail, which runs past the cellar door.
The vineyard replant takes a little more time, with work to replant or regraft much of the former Kaimira Estate, taking the 13 varieties down to six.