Vineyard expands opportunities with global wine brand Boutinot Wines
Many in the New Zealand wine sector know of the Upper Moutere Valley vineyard planted by Hermann and Agnes Seifried in 1973. These two hectares of vines were significant then as the South Island’s first modern commercial vineyard, and they’re still significant now within the 10 ha Heaphy Wines vineyard which is now part of the global wine business Boutinot Wines.
Of particular note, says Kelly Le Frantz, Vineyard Manager, are the Riesling and Chardonnay vines which still produce grapes of outstanding quality.
“The incredible history and quality of these vines is now blended with the passion and commitment of Boutinot's global team,” says Kelly. “The grapes from these vines have an intensity of flavour that they’re almost their own variety within that variety, if that makes sense. They’re very special and it’s an honour to care for them.”
The sale of Heaphy Wines to Boutinot by its founders Greg and Amanda Day last year means the Nelson estate is one of just four properties around the world owned by Boutinot from the soil up.
At the time of the sale, Boutinot Commercial Director Michael Moriarty said: “By immersing ourselves in this exciting region, the acquisition of Heaphy extends the group’s long-term, strategic desire to ever-improve our wines and augments our portfolio of vineyards and wineries in Domaine Boutinot (Southern Rhône, France), Wildeberg (Western Cape, South Africa) and Henners (Sussex, England).”
Greg remains involved with the business until June this year in a sales and distribution role, something he and Amanda are very familiar with, having created and sold a successful wine import and distribution business. Boutinot was one of their suppliers so the Heaphy-Boutinot connection dates back a couple of decades.
With a wine production background, Andy Nicole joined the Heaphy team as General Manager early in 2023 and shares the story of Boutinot Wines’ establishment: “With five years in the wine trade behind him, Paul Boutinot went to work at his family’s restaurant near Manchester. He was disappointed with the quality of the wine they were serving, so he hired a van and went round wineries in France tasting and purchasing wine for the restaurant (which was legal then). It was so successful that other restaurateurs asked if they could buy wines from him, and by 1980, the Boutinot Wines import and distribution business was created.”
Now the business includes the import and export of wine in over 50 countries as the global representative of around 150 wine producers, producing wine from the Boutinot owned vineyards and a partnership in Italy, and agency agreements with other producers in several countries.
Andy says the Boutinot connection with Nelson through Heaphy Wines aims increase the region’s visibility to the rest of the world.
This is an exciting opportunity for Nelson with Amanda Day saying: “They want to make the Heaphy Wines brand their premium New Zealand wine brand, and they also want to buy from other growers in Nelson.”
The winery has been expanded to accommodate making more wine for other labels as well as Heaphy. Andy is working with their experienced winemakers Emma David and Neil Todd on other aspects such as improving workflow.
“Ultimately,” says Andy, “we’re looking at anything that we think will improve the quality of already great wine from the vineyard to the winery.”
Kelly has worked in the viticultural sector since 2007 but this is her first season managing a vineyard, so she appreciates being able to call on the experience of their Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative Jonny Richards.
“Jonny is great. He’ll look at what we’ve got going on and make useful suggestions for our decision making. I’ve known Jonny a long time. He’s very knowledgeable and can talk about sprayers and tractors just as helpfully as crop protection products and disease pressure. He also helps Emma and Neil with a lot of winery supplies and I know they appreciate the depth of his knowledge too.”
So far, the first full season under Boutinot ownership is going well for the Heaphy team. Kelly says the vines are looking good.
“It’s pretty dry in Nelson but there’s still some powdery mildew pressure to content with. Potentially, with the dry conditions, fruit will ripen earlier. We’re expecting a good vintage with intense flavours.”