The Julicher story begins on the stoney riverbed soils of the Te Muna Valley, a premium grape growing location nestled just outside Martinborough. Wim Julicher came to New Zealand in 1972 from Holland with $50.00 in his pocket, the promise of a job, and a dream of one day owning land in New Zealand. He spent 30 years in the building trade then decided it was time for a change.
In 1996 he bought bare land on Te Muna Road and planned to grow olive trees and produce oil. Disaster struck in 2000 when a series of horrendous frosts wiped out over half the planted trees. Fortunately he had begun to plant some vines, as he had always enjoyed good wine.
So the olive oil idea was abandoned and he continued to plant different varieties of vines, which now include pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
Who works for Julicher Estate?
Our current winemaker Outi Jakovirta is Finnish, and she has been with Julicher Estate since 2005. She’s worked in almost every wine region around the world since her post graduate studies in Canterbury, and has gained huge experience and knowledge.
We also employ a full time Vineyard manager, James Pittard, who has worked for 25 years in local vineyards. Contract workers carry out vineyard work throughout the year when necessary.
What’s your signature wine?
Since 2007, the vineyard has produced three Champion Wine of the Show Trophies for pinot noir, plus many gold medals.
We attribute our success to “damned hard work, perfect free draining alluvial gravel on Te Muna Road, and an excellent winemaker!”
How much wine to you produce?
We produce around 5000 cases per year from 16 hectares of vines, supplying nationally to fine wine stores and restaurants, and exporting to Finland (thanks to our Finnish winemaker), the U.K and Germany.
What’s your most memorable winemaking moment?
Our 2006 Pinot Noir was the vintage that really got us started. That wine won Champion Wine of the Show at the New Zealand International Wine Show in 2007. Sue says it was like a fairy tale night… “Wim and I danced up to the stage to collect our trophy through crowds of people, who were all clapping and smiling, strangers were kissing and hugging me on the way! It was wonderful! We’ve gone on to win 2 more Champion Wine of the Show trophies, but the first win was the most exhilarating and memorable”.
Winery dog/cat? Or other pet animals?
We have 2 gorgeous Orpington hens on the vineyard, Snow White and Esmeralda, (named by the grandchildren) who free range most of the day. They’re great layers, and we rarely run out of fresh eggs.
Our vineyard dog Tara, sadly died a couple of years ago, but we feel the time is right to replace her, and we’ve already starting checking out the local animal rescue shelter for our next one.
We also have an old cat called Stogie who is a great rabbiter, and mouse hunter. All the prey (not always dead!) gets hauled through the cat door for praise and acknowledgement.
Funniest customer tasting story
We frequently have wine groups for tasting, and sometimes they know very little about winemaking. During a recent tasting, a woman came up to me and said, “I’ve just read the description on the back of the pinot noir bottle, and it says hints of liquorice. How do you dissolve the liquorice in the wine?”
What makes your region special?
Martinborough region is special because it was this area that planted the first pinot noir grapes. There were pioneers back in the late 19th century that ventured into wine, then in the 1970s a group of DSIR soil scientists discovered the similarities of soil type and climate between Martinborough and Burgundy, France. These pioneers took big risks buying land and planting vines, but thankfully it paid off.
Top 3 things to do in your region?
If we had to pick the three top things to do in the region, it would be of course No 1, wine tasting, No 2, a visit to the wonderful wild southern coast to climb Cape Palliser lighthouse, watch the sea lions & cubs, and walk to the Pinnacles. No 3. Tararua Forest Park for tramping, via Mt Holdsworth road (either 2 hours or 2 days) in beautiful native bush.