Syrah heroes from Stonecroft

Dermot McCollum and Andria Monin of Stonecroft Wines. Twitter @Stonecroftwine

Stonecroft is a small, family-owned winery in the heart of Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. Established in 1982 by soil scientist, Dr Alan Limmer, and his wife Glennice Limmer on a stony, infertile vineyard site with neighbours that included a rubbish dump, a drag race strip, a gravel quarry and an army firing range.

Their secret weapons must surely include the country’s oldest syrah vines.

Attempts to get the land zoned for viticulture were frustrated by a gravel quarry. A lengthy legal battle resulted in the area being given the thumbs-up for viticulture, opening the door for other wineries to plant vines and make wine in the Gimblett Gravels.

In 1984 Dr Limmer rescued some syrah vines from the now-defunct Te Kauwhata Viticultural Research Station and planted them in the Gimblett Gravels. Limmer believes that the vines were probably imported into New Zealand in the 1900s by the government viticulturist, Romeo Bragato. He made the vines freely available to other winemakers. A plaque in the Stonecroft vineyard reads “Oldest Syrah Vines Planted 1984”.

Stonecroft was purchased by the current owners, Dermot McCollum and Andria Monin, in 2010 and converted to organic production.

In my view, syrah is the hero at Stonecroft. The winery produces six syrah labels if you include their Undressed Rosé, which is made from 100% syrah. Stonecroft earned 20th place on The Real Review 2021 Top Wineries ranking, an impressive result when you consider the number of New Zealand wine producers exceeds 700. Their secret weapons must surely include the country’s oldest syrah vines, a great vineyard site in Gimblett Gravels and an uncompromising approach to making high-quality wines.

Stonecroft syrah

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