The winemaking at Mahana is far from conventional.
It is often said that great wine is made in the vineyard – all our grapes are estate-grown, enabling quality control from the vineyard direct to the bottle. We strive to produce grapes, which not only reflect their soil, climate and environment, but also the people who curate them each season. Through an holistic approach, the inspired team works on each individual site to build strong, resilient vines grown in vital healthy soil. Each of our three vineyard sites was chosen for their unique character. Our wines express terroir and an artisanal approach, distinguished by our gentle handling in our gravity flow winery.
There is not so much an attitude of experimentation but rather an exciting air of exploration in the winery.
Mahana wines that show no fear of falling off the edge of the world but rather sail toward the horizon searching for treasure and adventure. This adventurous spirit fits beautifully with the spectacular four-level gravity flow design of the winery building, which is as forward-thinking as the winemaking inside. It is a custom built winery made for exploration!
The winery challenges preconceived ideas as to what ‘normal’ is and where boundaries are. Mahana is at the forefront of the avant-guard of new producers in New Zealand who are rejecting the safe and ultraconservative winemaking conventions prevalent throughout the country, making wines that are dynamic and thought-provoking. These are wines that dare to be different. There is an embrace of difference at Mahana of quality, authenticity and the laws of terroir.
~ Michael Glover, Winemaker
In the winery there is a constant quest to find new and different textures and flavours that are limited only by the season, soil and the imagination and direction of the winemaking. There is a need to energetically pursue, improve on and perfect what has been discovered. Whereas many producers cling to the ‘Old World’ to legitimise and give blind meaning to their lack of direction. Our wines aspire to find unique flavours and aromas. They intend to express and reflect their place in a ‘New World’. Why repeat what already exists? Our goal is ‘alternative’ white-winemaking. We explore and utilise skin fermentation, ‘carbo-blanc’ winemaking, Italian coopered Acacia timber puncheons, French coopered Oak bespoke ‘Glovemeister-cigars’, extended aging on lees and ‘natural’ sulphite free maturation – all practices that sit easily and comfortably within the Mahana winery walls… !
The adventurous spirit of winemaking is no different when applied to the reds. We differ in our ultra-traditional way of making wine that requires very little input or winemaker intervention. Our approach of whole bunch winemaking with no extraneous additions is the foundation block used to explore the combination of Mahana’s yellow ultic soil, seasons and the enigmatic pinot noir variety. With Mahana’s pinot noir, we employ the courage to go back in time, as a basis to go forward. Ours is a rejection of many ‘standard’ practices that are deemed to distort and blur the truth. For example, there is little in the way of plunging or pumping over for extraction, just the occasional pigeage à pied with the winemaker’s feet, releasing sugar to hungry indigenous yeasts. These wines speak first and foremost of place. They are made without regard for fashion, trend or favour. They are simply made the way they should be made. These wines have a kind of instinct and purity to them and, in a way, there is an unfettered simplicity to them as well. These are wines of passion, confidence and purpose. These wines do not walk… they stride!
Two Vineyards. One Goal.
Mahana’s rolling hills and Waimea’s plains. Our Viticulture team are outstanding stewards of these vineyards…and they never tire of the incredible views.
The rolling hills of Upper Moutere were formed during the last ice age. Glacial melts moving across the earth left behind layers of clay-bound gravels. Mahana means “warm” in Maori, and at 100 metres above sea level, its gently rolling slopes make good use of the spring sunshine, whilst catching the cooling afternoon sea breeze in midsummer. It is here that the Mahana vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay.
Burke’s Bank Vineyard
The Mahana vineyard is complemented by a second vineyard just fifteen kilometres away on the Waimea Plains. The Burke’s Bank and Red Shed vineyards are planted for Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The stony, free-draining alluvial soils over deep, compacted gravel from the Waimea plains add ripe melon and tropical fruit notes to our Sauvignon Blanc and floral aromas and intense fruit flavours to the Riesling and Pinot Gris.
We don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk.
Having been certified organic since 2011 for us is not about the latest trends or some hollow misappropriated verbiage designed to create an illusion about what we stand for. For the Mahana team, it is about best practices; what is best for our site and our grapes is best for our wines. Keywords, coined phrases, and ticked boxes don’t apply. What works for this land, these vines does. Keep it real.
We believe that each generation should ‘tread lightly on the land’. This idea is has led us on an exciting journey, from being certified as sustainable through to full organic certification of both vineyards and winery in March 2011.
Organic certification means we use only naturally derived products and no herbicides or synthetic fertilisers. We now produce wines, which meet organic standards in the European Community, United States, Canada and some Asian countries, as well as New Zealand. The external programme of annual audits by BioGro New Zealand gives us an independent yardstick by which to measure ourselves.
We are convinced that working proactively with ecological processes to build rich soils full of life is the key to healthy, resilient vines. We have already seen increased vine and soil health, as well as more biodiversity and beneficial insect life within the vineyards. The quality of the grapes and the wines continue to improve.
GRAVITY FLOW WINERY
Built To Last.
The winery stands to last a hundred years and reduces our energy consumption over time. Set into the Mahana hillside, its ‘living roof’ of native tussock and shrubs allows it to blend gently with the surrounding landscape.
The unique four-level gravity-flow winery was designed by Oregon winery architect Larry Ferar.
Our winery combines the best of traditional winemaking practices with state-of the-art modern equipment, allowing us to craft distinctive wines that reflect the place in which they were grown and the care with which they were made. The winery and vineyard teams work closely together to produce fruit of the highest quality in the vineyard, then vinify it with the minimum of intervention to achieve full, concentrated flavours.
Hand-sorting starts the process and gravity moves the wine through the four floors of the 18m high winery, eliminating as much as possible the use of pumps. This reduces electricity use and more importantly, allows gentle handling of the wine to retain fruit aromas and maximise flavour concentration. Power is also saved in the temperature control of our insulated wine tanks through a precisely managed computer system and by the passive cooling of the winery itself, which is partly buried in a south-facing hillside and insulated by its ‘living roof’. As well as reducing our energy footprint, this process minimises temperature fluctuations in our cellars, benefitting the wine ageing in barrels and bottles.
The winery is a vibrant place, the dramatic architecture complementing the magic of the creative process. This is particularly so during vintage, when the air is full of the primary fruit aromas of fermenting grapes, and afterwards when the barrel cellars are redolent with the complex aromas of young Pinot Noir in French oak barrels.