Wine Vintages


Our UCD 5 Pinot Noir clones progressed well since planting in July 2000. As a vintage test, we decided to leave only a small number of bunches on the vines, harvesting some 74 kilos of UCD 5 Pinot Noir grapes in April. The grapes were taken to the winery where they were tested and tasted and pronounced highly satisfactory.

A successful and momentous first sample vintage!



An ongoing potential risk in Martinborough, early autumn frosts can damage the first buds of the season from which the highest quality fruit develops. While we took the precaution of installing two wind machines during the vineyard’s development, the unusual nature of the frosts of 2003 meant the machines were not as effective as under normal conditions. The result was that the vines suffered bud damage and produced a smaller than anticipated crop of 8.6 tonnes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc), compared to an estimate of 11.5 tonnes. Chardonnay was the most affected.

All grapes were sold to a Martinborough winery and blended with its wines. As the only supplier of Sauvignon Blanc we were able to acquire a quantity of 2003 cleanskin Sauvignon Blanc. We released this wine after designing a label with the help of Phil Dunstan-Brown.

It proved a great first vintage from young vines.



A solid winter, warm spring and dry summer provided the ideal conditions for a large crop of excellent quality. However in mid February the vineyard received four months annual rainfall – 220mls – in two weeks, temporarily flooding the property. In response we reduced crop levels, cutting a proportion of fruit to save the rest. With the rest of the season progressing normally, we harvested on schedule in mid – late April 2004.

Despite the crop reduction, we still achieved a record harvest, well above estimates. We picked a total volume of 36.8 tonnes, comprising 19.9 tonnes of Pinot Noir, 11.1 tonnes of Sauvignon Blanc, 5.3 tonnes of Chardonnay and 496 kilos of Pinot Gris. As previously, we sold all our fruit to a Martinborough winery.

By chance in 2006, we discovered two unreleased barrels of 2004 Croft Chardonnay supplied to Martinborough Vineyard. The Vineyard had not included the barrels for reasons of style. After a taste test revealed the wine was in great condition, we negotiated the purchase of both barrels and soon thereafter bottled, labelled, boxed, rested and, finally, released the vintage.



The 2005 vintage was to be the first released as Croft Wine, with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Unoaked Chardonnay.

Anticipation was high as bud development progressed well over October and November. However, the warm December vital for flowering and the setting of fruit was interrupted by a wintry cold snap of around 10 days. While the weather did eventually warm up, January revealed small, shrivelled bunches.

Volume estimates fell from 30 tonnes to 20 tonnes, to 15 tonnes, to 10 tonnes, in just over two months. After picking in early April the total volume was 9.5 tonnes.

While the volume was a considerable disappointment, the quality of the fruit was outstanding.

We aged the Pinot Noir for 13 months in French Oak, 30% of which was new.

The Pinot Gris was aged in a French Barrel for seven months – just the one barrel. Because of the small volume we processed all 274 bottles by hand using corks instead of our preferred screwcaps. However, our efforts were duly rewarded with dried pear and citrus flavours and mouth filling viscosity.

The Sauvignon Blanc and Unoaked Chardonnay both spent six months resting on their lees in stainless steel prior to bottling.



The vineyard escaped damage of late frosts thanks to the effectiveness of our wind machines. Spring started early, providing wonderful growing conditions for the vines, which were well advanced by summer. Hot summer days and cool nights with very little rain followed, creating particularly perfect conditions for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

As the season progressed, the fruit was thinned and ‘seconds’ together with ‘shoulders’ were removed. Brix levels, acid and flavour were developing nicely and in balance. Then in late March the vines were hit by an unexpected and dramatic turn in the weather prompting the prospect of early picking. After much discussion we gave the fruit another two weeks. Fortunately the weather held, and our decision was rewarded with a bumper harvest in terms of both quality and quantity.

We harvested 53 tonnes, comprising 31 tonnes of Pinot Noir, 14 tonnes of Sauvignon Blanc, 7 tonnes of Chardonnay and 1 tonne of Pinot Gris.



Another disaster from the weather. We survived the small number of frosts without damage. However, a very cold December 2006 meant the flowers did not develop properly and the fruit never set, ie no grapes!!!

There was so little fruit that we sold it all, only retaining sufficent Sauvignon Blanc to make 50 cases. The wine was never released commercially and we only sell it as part of a vertical tasting three pack comprising 2006, 2007 and 2008.



Nature really is fantastic. After the previous terrible year, 2008 was one out of the text book. The weather this year was why the early Martinborough Wine Pioneers came here.

It was warm, sunny and dry from November until March, what a season. The dry conditions made it difficult for other areas of farming but for the grape growers it was magic. The gloom and doom of the prior year was forgotten in the all consuming task of harvesting large volumes of high quality grapes which taxed our facilities and us ~ but that is just how we want it!!

 We harvested our largest volume ever ~ 57 tonnes, comprising 34 tonne of Pinot Noir, 16 tonne of Sauvignon Blanc, 6 tonne of Chardonnay and 1 tonne of Pinot Gris.



Once again another magic season. The early frosts in October made no impact. In addition to our two wind machines, we have now installed an overhead water spray system for the first 18 rows of Block One. This has proved very effective.

The weather was sunny from November through until March. Good viticulture throughout the year meant little or no pest/disease pressure. Then we had a lot of rain and this delayed picking. There were many tense days of “should we pick or should we delay”. As we achieved a couple of fine days in a row we would harvest and then wait. Eventually all the fruit was in to the winery. 

This year we have taken a big first step in making some of our own Pinot Noir ourselves. We had a number of “Consulting Viticulturists” ie friends, neighbours and other winemakers, oversee what was happening. It was an exciting but somewhat scary process. Plunging Pinot Noir twice a day, particularly in the early stages is backbreaking work. As the ferment progressed it got easier but the early struggle will stay with us for a while yet. We will report on progress and it will be interesting to see whether this wine will finally be good enough for the CROFT label.



The weather this year once again amazed us. Great flowering and fruit set in early December. Shocking weather (rain, hail, winds, overcast) in late December and January. We were at the stage of wondering whether the fruit would ever ripen, and then the sun started shining and continued for a glorious, intense but shortened summer. We harvested late and there was no rain until after harvest ~ fantastic. This was our first ever vintage when all the grapes were harvested on the agreed dates. Great for us and our pickers.

The volumes were down a bit on the previous high yielding years. It is probably a case of getting back to “normal” harvest levels; not a bad thing with the recession and current oversupply.

 The fruit itself was in spectacular condition; dry, clean and pristine. Winemaking is well underway but we need to wait to see what, if any impact, the odd season has had on final quality.

As is now our tradition, we harvested our Pinot Gris last. With family and friends we had a leisurely start at 9.00am and all the fruit was in the winery by 11.45am. Then to the vineyard lunch; the barbie was fired up to roast a beef fillet, gently sauted blue cod and with May’s great salad selection (pumpkin, rocket, feta and kumara, orange, pine nuts and chargrilled peppers, roast baby potatoes, onion) a feast worthy of the event was enjoyed by all, including a glass or two of the local product.

Prior to lunch, May also blessed the vines in the traditional manner of a pray of thanks as she poured a bottle of CROFT Wine over the vines.