The beautiful Waipara Valley in North Canterbury is home to Ataahua Wines. Nestled between traditional pastoral and cropping based farms, adjoining vineyards and the Waipara Domain lies Ataahuas vineyards.
The Maori translation of Ataahua is beautiful, picturesque, a place of beauty so appropriate to the valley, the vineyard and the wines alike. A major part of Ataahuas philosophy for growing grapes then carefully making that fruit into wine is to translate and express the beauty of the vineyard and area into wines that people can relate to and absolutely enjoy.
Much of the appeal of this exciting and dynamic industry is the challenge to each year make the best and most interesting wine from the fruit grown, expressing the unique characteristics of the vineyard and the vintage. With every vintage comes a new challenge and no two years are ever the same.
In the heart of the Waipara Valley, on Church Road is the Ataahua vineyard. First planted in the early 1980s, the vineyard was originally part of Waipara Springs and the Hutt Creek Vineyards among some of the earliest vineyards planted in the valley. Sheltered from the cooling easterly sea breezes by a range of limestone hills, the Waipara Valley enjoys the long warm dry summers that are ideal for wine growing.
Purchased in 1995 by Andrew Grant and Stephanie Henderson-Grant, the now named Ataahua vineyard is home to the Grant family. Following many years of involvement in the wine industry including winemaking, wine sales and marketing, and business management Andrew and Stephanie decided to follow a dream and began producing handcrafted wine from their own vineyard. 2008 heralded the first vintage of Ataahua Wine.
Soils are predominantly clay loams over a shingle seam varying in depth, all overlying a deep limestone base. The mountain ranges to the east and west are mainly limestone rock, eroding to give the valley soils a significant lime component. At a latitude of 42.9 S and only 10 kilometres as the crow flies from the Pacific Ocean to the east, the valley lies in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps forming a warm dry meso climate ideal for growing high quality grapes for wine. Irrigation for young vines is supplied via a dam shared with neighbouring vineyards.
Comprising three blocks, Ataahua vineyard has mature Merlot and Pinot Noir vines, planted in the early nineties plus a young block of Gewurztraminer, planted in 2005 and 2006. The Pinot Noir is predominantly 10/5 clone plus a small component of 115. The Merlot is a mix of Erindale and BDX 481 plus own-rooted vines while the more recently planted Gewurztraminer is 457, GM12 and Lawsons clone. Cabernet Sauvignon was originally established. However, this variety has been since replaced with Gewurztraminer.
The vines enjoy the warmth of long summer sunshine hours and an autumn traditionally very warm during daylight hours and much cooler at night. This diurnal temperature difference contributes to the intensity of flavour and the ripeness/acidity balance so critical for the best wine grapes.
Vines are hand tended, with much care taken in ensuring the vines are in good health and well balanced. Cropping levels are kept low allowing good concentration of flavour and an even ripening in the fruit while canopies are kept open to reduce risk of disease and to increase sunlight and airflow.
Fruit for Ataahua Gewurztraminer, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all grown in our vineyard while other varietals are sourced locally from vineyards within the valley.