Bridget Ennals and Steve Pellett travelled the world to find a place to put down their roots. They found that place at the top of New Zealands South Island, under the cool gaze of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (the footprint of the rainbow) in Marlboroughs spectacular Awatere Valley.
The Awatere Valleys sunny days and cool nights ripen grapes slowly, allowing them to develop herbaceous flavours and gooseberry tastes distinctively different to the sauvignon produced elsewhere in Marlborough.
Sustainable viticulture has been the foundation of our vineyard practices since the outset. We joined Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand in its early days and became an accredited grower in 2005.
We are situated in the Awatere valley in the heart of Marlborough just 7kms from the coast, 45minutes from the aquatic playground of the Marlborough Sounds.
Our team is complemented by viticulturalist, Jeremy Hyland, and noted winemaker Eveline Fraser whose expertise and experience guide us to pick each block at optimal maturity and flavour profile.
Steve runs the vineyard with the help of a succession of international backpackers. We take great care and meticulous attention to detail tending the vines to get the right fruit to canopy balance which varies with the soil types of each block. The vines are grown on a vertical shoot positioning trellis with two and three lifting wires. Leaf-plucking improves airflow around the fruit and minimises disease pressure whilst the Pinot Noir simply needs more exposure to the sun.
We started work the day we arrived on our new block of bare land in the Awatere Valley in June 2003, planting 7 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 3 hectares of Pinot Noir with Dijon clones in our stony Dashwood loam soils. Two years later we bought a neighbouring small block called Little Oasis, which was already planted with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This block has really stony riverbed soils. In 2006 we transformed another bare land block, just opposite us across the southern side of the Stafford Creek, into Sauvignon Blanc. This we call the SECC block.
The vineyard is nestled under Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (Maori" "Footprint of the Rainbow"). At the top of the Southern Alps, it strongly influences the climate, with its rain shadow bestowing low rainfall and low humidity upon the Awatere Valley. Along with sunny days and cool nights this creates perfect conditions for slow steady ripening and flavour development. Awatere grapes have a distinctive fruity yet steely and herbaceous flavour quite different to those produced elswehere in Marlborough.
Why the name Stanley Estates?
Stanley the Land Rover took us on a 30,000 kilometre adventure - from Bath UK, where we both gained degrees in Horticulture, to Cape Town, South Africa over 15 months in 1991. It was named after Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the famed African explorer.
After our epic journey in Stanley Rover, we spent a further two years under African skies establishing an export program on a vegetable farm just north of Cape Town. After a year in the UK from 1994 we travelled the world as fruit technologists, auditing growers and pack-houses for UK retailers.
We wanted to run our own business in a beautiful and stimulating environment, so in 2003, when we came across the exceptional terrain of the Awatere Valley we bought 11 hectares at the foot of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (the footprint of the rainbow) and began planting grapes in earnest.
The first wines under the Stanley label were were from the 2009 vintage. We really hit the ground running fast; our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc won the Best International Sauvignon Blanc Trophy and the Best New Zealand White Trophy at the 2011 London International Wine Challenge. Our wines have been regular winners of top awards ever since.
- Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Royal Easter Wine Show 2011, Gold Medal and Trophy Wines)
- Stanley Estates Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011 (Pure Gold) (Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2011, Gold Medal and Trophy Winners)
- Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 (International Wine Challenge 2011, Gold Medal Winners)