The road to Marlborough
Sharing a passion for adventure, wine, viticulture and the environment, we established our boutique vineyard in Marlborough’s famed Awatere valley in 2003.
Stanley Rover took us on a 30,000 kilometre adventure – from Bath UK, to Cape Town, South Africa over 15 months in 1991. It was named Stanley Rover after Sir Henry Morton Stanley, an intrepid African explorer who uttered the fabled words “Dr Livingston I presume?”
After our epic journey in Stanley Rover, we spent a further two years under African skies establishing an export program on a vegetable farm just north of Cape Town.
Returning to the UK in 1994, we travelled the world as fruit technologists, auditing growers and pack-houses to strict agricultural and food safety standards for supply to UK retailers.
With degrees in horticulture from the University of Bath, we have more than just a love of adventure in common.
We wanted to run our own business in a beautiful and stimulating environment, so in 2003 we bought 11 hectares at the foot of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (the footprint of the rainbow) ) in Marlborough’s spectacular Awatere Valley, and began planting grapes in earnest.
The Awatere Valley’s sunny days and cool nights ripen grapes slowly, allowing them to develop herbaceous flavours and gooseberry tastes – distinctively different to the sauvignon produced elsewhere in Marlborough.
Stanley Estates vineyard
We started work the day we arrived on our new block of bare land in the Awatere Valley in June 2003, planting 7 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 3 hectares of Pinot Noir with Dijon clones in our stony Dashwood loam soils.
Two years later we bought a neighbouring small block called “Little Oasis”, which was already planted with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This block has really stony riverbed soils.
In 2006 we transformed another bare land block, just opposite us across the southern side of the Stafford Creek, into Sauvignon Blanc. This we call the SECC block.
We now have 3ha of Pinot Noir, 0.5ha of Chardonnay, 0.5ha Albariño and 13.5ha of Sauvignon Blanc and 2ha of Pinot Gris.
Steve runs the vineyard with the help of a succession of international backpackers. We take great care and meticulous attention to detail tending the vines to get the right fruit to canopy balance which varies with the soil types of each block.
The vines are grown on a vertical shoot positioning trellis with two and three lifting wires. Leaf-plucking improves airflow around the fruit and minimises disease pressure whilst the Pinot Noir simply needs more exposure to the sun.
Harvest time is mid March to mid April. Our team is complemented by viticulturalist, Jeremy Hyland, and notable winemaker Jules Taylor whose expertise and experience guide us to pick each block at optimal maturity and flavour.