Colombo Winegrowers is a small, independent wine producer in Martinborough.
We caught up with them at the Martinborough tasting in Auckland recently to find out more about this boutique winery from New Zealand’s most charming wine region.
Who started it?
Colombo Winegrowers is owned and operated by a husband and wife team, Carolyn Irwin from Northern Ireland and Baptist Sieber from Switzerland.
What’s the story behind the brand name?
The name COLOMBO refers to a horse. In 2004/05 we did a two year horse expedition through the Australian outback. We had 6 horses (pack and riding horses) with whom we rode 4500 km from Cooktown to Canberra. The idea was to go all the way to Melbourne but while resting horses and riders in Canberra, the horse COLOMBO broke his leg in a stormy night and had to be put down.
As he was a very special horse and the first horse we bought for that trip, we decided to end this memorable journey in Canberra. Colombo’s horse shoe is now nailed onto the wall in the cellar door.
We are small, very small… ~1500 cases at the moment.
What’s your signature wine?
Our signature wines are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and in summer our barrel fermented Pinot Noir Rosé.
What makes your winery special?
We are owner and operators who do the jobs ourselves – from vineyard to winemaking and marketing. There is no big investor, no rich parents, it’s our money so we do things the way we want to do it…and take the risks.
Our winery and cellar door is quite special, combining wine production and entertainment for customers in a small space, with a stylish European feel to it. We regularly host dinners and other events where we combine food (for example beef from our very own cows) with ours and other wine from around the world. Sometimes Baptist, the winemaker, is cooking, sometimes we get chefs in.
Most memorable winemaking moment?
Oh well, I guess a memorable moment was when our son was born….winemaking is our job and often also combined with stress and sorrows if everything goes to plan and we can pay the bills.
It will be a memorable moment when we can say in a few years time that we are in a good space, financially and personally.
We have a lovely winery dog called Bruno (he will be in the new Wine Dogs book). We brought him over from Switzerland where we lived before. The other pet is Lulu the cat who can often be seen sleeping on one of the couches in the cellar door.
Besides that we have some pure bred Dexter cows who give us prime beef for our functions. They are cute too, but we eat them.
Our vintage parties are …
Drinking beer in the winery between the fermenters after a hard days work….and then fall into bed very, very tired.
Did you invent anything along the way?
Not that I can think of…but perhaps we are a bit different in the way that we don’t take ourselves so serious just because we ferment a few grapes.
What makes Martinborough special?
Martinborough is the only real wine village in New Zealand, one can walk or cycle from one to the next boutique vineyard. It’s small but with a lot of quality and charm. Just like Europe…
Hot spots in Martinborough
- Obviously visiting the boutique wineries
- Hang out in one of the cool bars and restaurants
- Explore the beautiful coastline (Tora, Ngawi, White Rock)