Changes at Craggy Range

The view from Craggy Range’s luxury lodge (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

Hawke’s Bay-based wine producer Craggy Range produced its first wines (according to my tasting notes) in 2001 from their Gimblett Gravels vineyard planted in 1999. They’d bought bare land and carefully mapped the soil profiles before matching these to varieties best suited to each.

Other viticultural changes include the purchase of a new vineyard in Martinborough that will almost double the scale of production when the new vines reach maturity.

Supply deliberately exceeded demand. Any grapes that didn’t make the cut were sold to other producers.

Chardonnay vines affected by virus were removed in 2011 and replace in 2013. The area devoted to chardonnay is being further increased today. I watched as a machine removed 20-year-old merlot vines that hadn’t performed to expectations. They are being replaced by chardonnay vines.

Re-planting even a part of a vineyard is an expensive business. There’s the cost of removing and replacing vines, loss of income for at least two years and its “start again time” as far as vine age is concerned. On the other side of the ledge,r the replacement vines are likely to be healthier, higher performing clones that are more market compatible. It’s an expensive business funded by ambition and a long-term approach to winemaking.

Other viticultural changes include the purchase of a new vineyard in Martinborough that will almost double the scale of production when the new vines reach maturity.

I was surprised to learn that the Craggy Range restaurant, Terrôir, was closed for renovation and will re-open in October. I’ve always been impressed by the Terrôir décor and asked how they plan to improve it. The “new look” was apparently inspired by the newly refurbished cellar door. It will have an open kitchen allowing guests to watch the chefs hard at it and will have a new wine bar area where guests can enjoy flights of wine and snacks.

Big changes at the cellar door are designed to enhance the experience for visitors who will be encouraged to enjoy a seated tasting with a member of the cellar door team, with the option of charcuterie and cheeses and a winery tour.

The standard tasting (complimentary for Prestige and Loyalty Club members and three guests) features four wines and costs NZD $7.50 per person. A varietal seated tasting features three vintages for Te Muna Vineyard Pinot Noir and Aroha Pinot Noir with a cost of NZD $30 per person. The Prestige Seated Tasting offers a taste of the five wine Prestige Collection for NZD $50 per person while the “Ultimate Prestige Tasting” features two vintages of the Prestige Collection and a guided tour of the wine cellars (by appointment only). The cost of each tasting is refundable on selected purchases.

For the complete Craggy Range experience, I recommend you stay at their vineyard cottages of their four-bedroom luxury lodge. They are all just a short walk from the Giants Winery and Terrôir restaurant. Two more luxury lodges and two vineyard cottages are currently under construction.

Craggy Range Giants Winery heads my list of “must visit” wineries.

*Bob Campbell MW stayed as a guest of Craggy Range.

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