With degrees in horticulture from the University of Bath, Steve Pellett and Bridget Ennals set off, in true intrepid explorer mode, to travel through Africa then back to the UK to work as fruit technologists. However the beauty of Marlborough’s spectacular Awatere Valley captured their hearts, and lead to the creation of Stanley Estate in 2003. Situated at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, under the cool gaze of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (the footprint of the rainbow), the estate takes its name from the ‘Stanley Rover’ in which Steve and Bridget travelled through Africa.
Over ten years Stanley Estates has made a big name for themselves, winning numerous major awards both domestically and internationally. Their dedication to, and connection with the land in which they work is obvious, indeed they signed up early to the NZ Sustainable Winegrowing programme, as they saw this as being the basis and philosophy of their vineyard practices.
In 2020, Stanley Estates was purchased by the family-owned Lake Road Wines in Gisborne. Steve Pellett has become a ‘grower’ for Stanley, continuing to supply grapes to new owners, brothers Steven and Andrew Blampied. Winemaker Eveline Fraser remains at the helm, ensuring consistency in the wines that are frequently acknowledged within the industry and embraced by the wine-loving public worldwide.
Eveline Fraser is the estate’s winemaker, bringing with her many years’ experience at wineries throughout New Zealand. We asked her:
What is your favourite style of wine, why?
My favourite style to make is a ‘Champagne style’ or Method Traditionelle as it is called in NZ. It is a very long process involving many technical steps, and is both very challenging and rewarding.
If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be?
That’s a hard question! I was a brewer before being a winemaker so I guess that would be the next most interesting, satisfying job to me. Many of the facets are similar technically and both combine a scientific approach with a good amount of creativity and rely on your palate to make each final decision.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
Being involved with the cycle of the seasons and the process relying on nature to create products that bring so much pleasure and enjoyment to many different people.
And the least?
Writing text for back labels, there isn’t enough space to say everything!
What is your favourite place in the winery/vineyards and why?
In the vineyard, it is early morning when it’s cool and still and always beautiful. In the winery, it is the barrel hall where a lot of the magic takes place and it’s tranquil and cool.