In 2002 our family returned to New Zealand after many years overseas. We decided to make our home at Bellbird Spring in the beautiful Waipara Valley, an area peppered with vineyards, olive groves, nut farms and fields of lavender.
Whether whole bunch pressing white varieties or hand plunging our reds, winemaking at Bellbird Spring is typified by hand harvesting. We employ an artisan style with a focus on natural fermentation and aging in old oak barriques. Small lots are crafted from individual vineyards allowing the identity of the site and vintage to express itself.
As a family we believe in working together, with each other as well as the land itself. Tom and Sheila live on site and produce extra virgin olive oil the Home Block olive grove. Daughter, Alex, runs the office whilst son Guy, a winemaking graduate of Adelaide University, manages the vineyard and makes the wine.
Two vineyards and an olive grove
Our original vineyard, Home Block, was planted in 2002. Sited on a terrace above the Waipara river, the soil is classic alluvial bench. This poor, free-draining soil means vine vigour is naturally restrained, yields are low, and the plant maintains an innate balance between vegetation and fruit.
One hectare of this site is dedicated to our Vin de Terroir Home Block White. A multi-varietal field blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Muscat Ottonell, this European style of wine offers a vibrant challenge to the single varietal approach taken by most New Zealand wineries.
Block Eight, our second vineyard, was purchased in 2004. This clay slope to the north of the river is composed of stoney, sandy Domett clay. Warmer than the Home Block, ripeness comes a little earlier to this site. The difference in geography leaves its trace in the wines, with Block Eight producing weightier wines than the aromatic fruit of the Home Block terrace site.
Our vineyards are complemented by a small olive grove found on Home Block, where we produce two varieties of extra virgin olive oil.