Opawa Wines

Meaning “smoky river” in Maori, Opawa is a vineyard located on the old river bed of the historic Opawa River in Marlborough. The stony river gravels absorb the sun’s warmth during the day, radiating it back onto the grapes at night, evolving the delicious aromas and flavours in these wines.

Our grapes are picked in the cool of night, under the moonlight, to ensure these pristine flavours are perfectly preserved in our wines.


Brett Bermingham grew up in the Marlborough Region and started his career in the wine industry at Highfield, Cloudy Bay and Rapaura Vintners Limited before gaining international winemaking experience in Victoria and Oregon. He returned home to work at Rapaura Vintners where Nautilus was a shareholder at the time. Brett specialised in making Nautilus Pinot, working in our dedicated Pinot facility until he joined Nautilus officially in 2006. He is generally to be found wandering through the Pinot Winery with a barrel thief in his hand and a smile on his face. Brett has had responsibility for the Opawa range of wines since 2008.

Our Vineyard

The Opawa vineyard is located on the historic river bed of the old Opawa river. The Opawa river was fed from the Wairau river until the Wairau plains were developed for agriculture and flood protection measures were put in place, changing the course of the river and leaving part of the old river bed dry. The stony soils are ideally suited for grape vines but not much else! Water drains freely, which grapevines like, and heat is absorbed from the bright Marlborough sunshine during the day, to be radiated back onto the grapes at night.

The vineyard was developed by Nautilus Estate who purchased the land in two parcels in 2001 and 2003. The combined plot is 25 hectares of very stony soil which was wild scrub land before grapevines were planted in surrounding area in the mid 1990s. The vineyard is in a warm, frost free site that ripens early in the season and produces an intensely fruity and fragrant style of wine, with a soft, juicy texture and great overall balance.

Wine Awards

  • Opawa Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Royal Easter Wine Show 2014, Trophy and Gold Medal Wines)
  • OPAWA - MARLBOROUGH PINOT NOIR - 2010 (Sydney International Wine Competition 2012, Award Winning Wines)
  • Opawa Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2010, Gold Medal and Trophy Winners)

12 Rapaura Road

P: +64 3 572 6008
F: +64 3 572 9374

CONTACT: Brett Bermingham