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The Spencer Hill Group produces premium wines under the Spencer Hill, Tasman Bay, Latitude 41, Mariner Vineyards and Kosher Goose Bay labels
Philip Jones and Sheryl Jones established the winery in 1990. Philip is a graduate of the University of California with degrees in Viticulture and Integrated Pest Management. He worked for eighteen years as a consultant to the Agricultural industry and during this period trained as a Winemaker at California State University. His experience as both a Winemaker and Viticulturalist contribute greatly to the winery direction and success. After investigating viticultural areas throughout New Zealand it was decided to establish vineyards and a winery in the Upper Moutere hills close to Nelson. The first wines were produced in 1994 under the Tasman Bay label and were quickly recognized as some of New Zealand best wines.
Over the years additional vineyards were planted and additional brands added. In 1996 Spencer Hill Estate wines were introduced, made from grapes grown at the estate vineyards. 2001 saw the introduction of Mariner Vineyard wines, which emphasized the clean, crisp fruit flavours of New Zealand grapes. Goose Bay wines were developed under supervision of the Royal Wine Corporation in 2005. Goose Bay wines are made for the Kosher market throughout the world, and Spencer Hill is the only New Zealand winery to make these types of wines. Latitude 41 is the newest label, introduced in 2007. Nelson and Marlborough are located on Latitude 41 and the wine is a blend emphasizing the best of both regions.
The Upper Moutere vineyards consist of seventy-five acres located on two blocks. They are planted to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier and Pinot Noir. The clay loam composition of the Upper Moutere soils provides the grapes with depth and concentration of flavours not found on lighter soils. These soils also retain moisture and allow the grape growing without supplemental irrigation. Although the soils are deep they are not extremely fertile. The oldest grapes in the Upper Moutere vineyards were planted in 1990. The vineyards are located behind the coastal hills about three kilometers from Tasman Bay. This unique situation of hills close to the sea provides a temperate climate with a long growing season. Winter is mild with early morning frosts but no snow.
The Coastal Ridge vineyards were established in 1994 with additional planting in 2001. They are located a few kilometers north of Nelson and consist of approximately 12 acres. These four blocks are planted to Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Noir. They are also located on heavy soils but differ from the Moutere in that the subsoil consists of broken rock. These soils also provide depth and concentration but result in slightly different flavours than the Moutere grapes. This vineyard is located on the hills facing Tasman Bay and can be subject to many changes in weather associated to large bodies of water.
Many persons are confused how grapes can be grown in the relatively cool climate of New Zealand. The secrete lies in itâ€™s long growing season and high solar intensity. The cooler temperatures help retain the delicious fruit flavours and the long growing season and high sunlight ripen the fruit perfectly.
Consistency is one of the main objectives of all Spencer Hill wines. Although each vintage can be different, one thing is certain - style and quality. Spencer Hill's wines have received a stunning record of accolades resulting in international acclaim in a very short period of time. Only grapes from the best vineyards are selected to be included in the finished wines. Traditional techniques such as native yeast and small batch ferments with the red wines are employed. The white wines are made with the latest technology advances, to produce wines, which take their place among the best.
Attention to detail by winemakers Philip Jones, Matthew Rutherford and Victor Flores assures consistent style and quality from one vintage to the next. Their in-depth knowledge of the vineyards and winemaking philosophy of all Spencer Hillâ€™s labels result in highly acclaimed wines. All aspects of winemaking from ferment through to bottling are conducted at the winery using the estate's own equipment. Total control of the winemaking process guarantees quality and consistency.
All of the labels are known for their exceptional value and thus are in demand worldwide. Only six varieties are produced, the varietals which the winemaking team feel they do best, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Noir.
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