Millton Vineyard is a wonderful winery to visit. Established In 1984 by James and Annie Millton, Millton sits on the banks of the Te Arai River, near Manutuke, where early settlers first planted grapevines in 1871. In its first five years of production Millton established itself as a New Zealand leader in the production of sweet late harvested Rieslings and wines of style coming from the Chenin Blanc variety.
The winery has won numerous gold medals, and several trophies at National and international wine competitions. Millton’s Te Arai vineyard Chenin Blanc is a top example of its type and well worth tasting if you haven’t already.
Its Opou vineyard Riesling is another top wine. Millton also produces good Chardonnay and Viognier wines. The vineyard has Bio-Gro certification, meaning no synthetic spray is used in growing its grapes.
The winery welcomes visitors and includes a tranquil garden setting where you can rest and picnic.
The Millton Vineyard’s four individual vineyards; Riverpoint, Opou, Te Arai and Clos de Ste. Anne are located in Manutuke and Matawhero.
The unique character of the appellation is its proximity to the influence of the Pacific Ocean together with the geologically youthful sedimentary soils. Cooling sea breezes keep the climate friendly and temperate in high summer. The high silica and clay content of these youthful soils attribute well to a harmonised moisture retention leaving the vines free to forage without any artificial additives such as water and nutrient.
Traditional viticulture is practised in all vineyards and all are dry-farmed, with no insecticide, herbicide, systemic fungicide or soluble fertilisers used.
“I believe the terroir gives the wine the flavours and characteristic. We do not disguise nor dress up the unique character with outside influences or winemaking manipulations. To myself, therefore, the soil and climate play the major role in our wines. We are merely the caretakers of the fruits of our labours. Our wines should give an expression of the natural flavours found in the grapes harvested from our vineyards.” James Millton
Te Arai Vineyard
Te Arai Vineyard was originally the bull paddock and later a citrus nursery. Thie block was planted in 1984 and it also houses the winery, offices, gardens and Annie and James' home.
It sits right on the riverbank bounded on three sides by the Te Arai River, which originates way back in the hills of the Waingake Valley. Through the ages this river has cut a deep rut in the land that makes up the valley floor. A rut so deep that, in former times, it proved to be impassable.
Tuhoe Maori from Lake Waikaremoana camped on this land whilst they awaited permission to cross the river and trade seafood for wood pigeons with local tribes on the coast. A sacred piece of ground.
Te Arai vineyard is planted with Chenin Blanc, Malbec, Merlot and a small parcel of Muscat outside James and Annie's kitchen window for eating. On the millennium these grapes were then used to make Muskats @ Dawn (antiquity into the modern era) and the success of this wine means there are very little left to eat!
Through the middle of this vineyard, and in keeping with the diversity theme, James planted a nature habitat of gravilleas and bottle brush trees, wanting to attract the native birds including bellbird and tui, both nectar-eating birds and very territorial, therefore tending to scare off other fruit-eating birds. Bees are also attracted to these beautiful red flowers and it is also where they house the beehives.
Clos Monique and Clos Samuel - two special vineyards named after James and Annie's children, are situated on a lower river plain at either end of the Te Arai Vineyard. The soils are incredibly high in silica and silt.
Chardonnay, Viognier and Gewurztraminer are grown on the original banks of the Waipaoa River Bank. The old riverbed is now a wildlife reserve hosting many different species of birds and animals, mostly friendly. This vineyard is only 5 kilometres from the sea and enjoys a cooling sea breeze in the late morning and early afternoon during the long hot summer. Over the seasons this has proven very beneficial in assisting with the preservation of subtle fruit flavours and acidity of the ripening grapes.
Situated on the southern side of the Waipaoa River, the Opou Vineyard was originally planted in 1969 at a time when the New Zealand wine industry started expanding into table wine production, albeit with plantings of French hybrids and other voluminous cross breeds.
It is planted with a vast selection of Chardonnay and Riesling clones from famous selections at the Giesenheim Institute in Germany and ENTAV in France.
"I like diversity in my vineyards in order to break up the monoculture and give a haven for the birds and insects. So we have planted a hedge way in the middle of this vineyard of Navel Oranges. This was done primarily to give us fruit to eat while working in the vineyard during the season. We also find that when these citrus trees start flowering in November they evoke a beautiful aroma of citrus blossom right across the vineyard. We believe that our Riesling wine possesses some similar aromas to this citrus blossom. As the grapevines flower at the same time as the citrus, we think there is compatibility here. The biodynamic expression is "the sharing of astrality" - James Millton.
Clos de Ste. Anne
Naboth's Vineyard was originally planted in 1981 to assess the potential of hillside vineyards in our region. Tests proved successful and in 1989 we decided to consolidate the varietal mix and expand the plantings to incorporate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 1993 saw the first commercial harvest and in exceptional years the fruit from this site is selected for Clos de Ste. Anne. Over the last three years we have had the wonderful experience of developing and enclosing the original Naboth's Vineyard into now what is the 30 acre Clos de Ste. Anne estate. This includes vineyards, forest plantations and amenity trees, livestock and olive plantations. With this most recent planting we have expanded and consolidated our collection of Pinot Noir clones. On the higher plateaux Syrah and Viognier have been planted. The original Naboth's Vineyard now includes four other smaller vineyards named, La Bas, La Cote, Les Arbres, and The Crucible.
James and Annie Millton established their winery on the banks of the Te Arai River, near Manutuke in 1984. Located on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the winegrowing region of Gisborne, this was the site where early settlers first planted grapevines in 1871. Annie's father, Mr John Clark, had also developed vineyards on his nearby estate at 'Opou' in Manutuke during the late 1960's
Prior to establishing the winery, James and Annie gained experience in the wine regions of France and Germany including Champagne Bollinger, Maison Sichel in Bordeaux and Weingut Kurstner in Rheinhessen. After returning to New Zealand in the early 1980's they extensively researched and replanted major parts of the family's grape growing business at the nearby Opou and Riverpoint Vineyards. Extensive planting was also undertaken around the new winemaking and barrel aging facility in the present Te Arai Vineyard. Following the birth of children Monique and Sam, further plantings were established on the river plateaus at either end of the Te Arai Vineyard, Clos Monique and Clos Samuel.
In 1981, Naboth's Vineyard was planted on a steep slope of land that was then part of Papatu Station. Plantings were increased in 2001 on adjacent blocks further around the slope. The grapes grown on this unique hillside amphitheatre are used to produce wines for Millton's ultra-premium Clos de Ste. Anne label.
Millton was the first producer in New Zealand to attain BioGro certification for organic wine production in 1989. Having practiced traditional methods of cultivation and production centred on biodynamic principles since inception, Millton was the first winegrower in the Southern Hemisphere to gain the biodynamic certification Demeter in 2009.
Even Millton's earliest releases were of high quality, not only winning favour with foundation customers, but pleasing the wine judges as well. Recognition was rapidly achieved winning numerous trophies and gold medals for the traditionally styled Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Internationally, gold medals were awarded for the 1992 Gisborne Chardonnay at the International Wine Challenge in London. This wine then went on to win the trophy at the International Organic Wine Challenge Fair, while two other Millton wines entered came second and third. A similar result was achieved at the 2004 San Francisco Wine Fair with Gold medals for the Riesling and Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blanc also won the trophy, moving it into the position of its current prestige as being a new-world wine classic gaining inclusion in Neil Beckett's, "1001 wines to drink before you die" (Published by Penguin in 2008).
Today, Millton wines consistently appear in fine dining rooms worldwide and continue to receive numerous national and international accolades.
Millton Vineyards & Winery are exclusive members of international group "La Renaissance des Appellations" and New Zealand collaboration "The Family of Twelve".
- Millton Vineyards Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2004 (International Wine Challenge 2005, New Zealand wines – gold and silver medals)