Pied Stilt Vineyard is located in one of New Zealand’s most picturesque regions on the Lower Moutere Plains near Motueka, about 45 minutes drive from Nelson. This 12ha slice of paradise is the heart of a small family operation that successfully took the leap from being a contract grower to producing their own range of wines.
I caught up with Laurie, the son of founder and owner Ross, to find out more about their region and their family business.
Who started Pied Stilt and when?
My father Ross had the vision to change careers so sold our dairy farm in the Waikato and our family moved to the Nelson region around the new Millennium. After completing a Wine and Viticultural course at EIT Hawkes Bay, he planted our 12ha vineyard in 2001. The vineyard is located in Lower Moutere on the Hau gravels, a former riverbed of the Motueka river and consists of 50% river gravels within a dark loam soil.
After growing grapes for a number of years we lost our supply channels in 2009, caused by the oversupply in 2008. We had always wanted to have our own label and this situation encouraged us to get started, using local contract winemaker, Anchorage Wines.
Number of employees?
What’s the story behind the brand name?
My parents Ross and Faith looked for something significant in our local area to connect with. The Pied Stilt’s are very popular in our region, although found over most coastal parts of New Zealand.
What’s your signature wine?
We have always achieved top results from our Pinot Gris, always early to ripen and come in to the winery. Our wines are generally all ‘Single Vineyard’ and grown under our own special care and attention.
What makes your region special?
Nelson is special in that most of the vineyards and wineries are family owned and have a passion for what they do.
We are surrounded by natural beauty, the Richmond and Kahurangi Mountain ranges and are only 20 mins drive away from the Abel Tasman National Park. We enjoy sunny weather most of the time, with very hot and dry summer and autumns.
Most memorable moment to date?
Probably when we did our first bottling and launched the Pied Stilt brand back in 2009, a satisfying and rewarding moment for all the hard work that had gone into planting a vineyard.
Winery dog or cat?
Mindy was our beloved family pet, a staffordshire, who lived out 14 years at our home, she liked to eat the grapes and be a team member.
Hot spots in and around Nelson
Sea Kayaking and hiking around the Abel Tasman, visiting the local family owned wineries and biking the new ‘taste tasman trail’ from Nelson Airport to Kaiteriteri.
We decided to plant a new and exciting varietal, Albarino, 4 years ago. We have just bottled our first vintage 2015 with 1000 bottles and have more volume to come on in the following years. We also launched a beautiful new label for vintage 2014.