Clark Estate

Current Owners: Peter & Jane Clark

Area (ha): 20

Peter and Jane Clark took ownership of the block in 1998 and planted the initial 8 ha of Sauvignon Blanc later that year when they moved from Auckland to Blenheim.

Jane did most of the young vine training while Peter worked as a logistics consultant in Wellington. Growing for Nautilus, the first harvest in 2001 saw many friends and neighbours join the Clarks for a day of hand-picking.

A severe frost on 18 Nov 2002 wiped out the 2003 crop and exactly a year later another frost destroyed half the 2004 crop. Two frost fans were then installed.

In 2002 Peter and Jane had re-located a small villa from Blenheim to the vineyard but it was over two years before they could engage Russell Kerslake to renovate and extend it. They occupied it in April 2005.

Meanwhile, son Simon had completed his BVO at Lincoln and, after a period working in wineries overseas, joined the family to take over management of the vineyard in 2003. They achieved SWNZ accredited vineyard status the next year. In 2005 they planted a further 2 ha of Sauvignon Blanc then 2 ha of Pinot Gris and 1 ha of Riesling in 2006.

The Clarks produced a small quantity of their own label, Boreham Wood, in 2006 and by 2008 they had introduced the Clark Estate brand and were no longer selling grapes. The average production is now 10,000 cases across three varieties; they export to five countries.

The vineyard altitude, together with the cold air that flows down the Black Birch and then drifts across the property, means that it is a cold site. About 5 ha of land next to the Awatere River could be developed in the future, but only with sprinkler frost protection.

 

Lower ValleyGillian McLeod