Jurassic Ridge is a small family-established and owned vineyard and winery situated in historic Church Bay (Hangaura) on the western end of Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
Our vineyard sits just above the site of one of the earliest missionary churches in Auckland, and enjoys expansive views over the Bay, the Hauraki Gulf islands and the Auckland city skyline, just 35 minutes away by fast ferry.
Whilst the original meaning of the name Hangaura has been lost, the literal translation of hanga is ‘to make’, while ura – right across Polynesia – is ‘red’. The perfect place to make red wine!
We carefully selected our site on the old sheep and cattle farm for its aspect. The vineyard's gentle slopes face North and NW into Church Bay maximising exposure of the vines to the sun. It tucks in perfectly on the ‘rise’, not too close to the salt-laden winds in the bay 80m below, and well beneath the exposed highest land of Croll Ridge at 108m to the East. Seven acres of regenerating forest reserve over ridge and valley provides shelter to the South. It is perfectly placed for maximum sunshine hours and early ripening and maturity of our grapes.
'Why Jurassic Ridge?' - or, 'Where did you get the name?' Well - the vineyard is named for its terroir - specifically, its geological terroir. A major study has shown the critical importance of the type of rock beneath the vineyard.
Our vines are planted over the exposed core of an ancient mountain ridge composed of 155 million year old rock formations (ie from the Late or Upper Jurassic period). in fact the centre of our vineyard sits precisely on the ridge line of the mountain that was once almost 3000m high. The sedimentary rock strata beneath the vineyard consists of greywacke sandstones, mudstones and argillites, interbedded with those mysterious rocks called cherts (ask me about them) and injected here and there with submarine basaltic pillow lavas. These rocks gradually weather and break down into our low fertility, stony, cracking clay soils, rich in iron oxides, manganese and magnesium from the ancient volcanic intrusions.
Lance Blumhardt is the founder, viticulturist, winemaker, cellar door pourer, sales manager, tractor driver and odd-job man. Coming late in life to winegrowing, a background in geology and medicine have proved handy in studies of the vineyard terroir and the art and science of winemaking.
Luciana Pelosi, who hails originally from Taurasi, the most famous Aglianico DOCG in Italy, is the most frequent taster of my wines with a critical palate that can always be relied on.
Recently, we received another gift from Italy when Adriano Dumitru arrived from La Sorvana - a wonderful estate in Toscana - where he was the capo of the viticultural team. Its great to have his boundless energy and expertise in the vineyard. Thanks to Giuseppe and Riccardo at La Sorvana who let Adriano come to New Zealand!
In 2011 - a challenging vintage on Waiheke with inclement weather at the wrong time - an expert vine physiologist, experienced vintner and international viticultural consultant arrived out of the blue and offered his help. Its not often that a small family vineyard can share such international expertise with such famous estates as Ornelaia, Sassicaia, La Sorvana, Frescobaldi, Mondavi, Francis Ford Coppola and Stags Leap - to name but a few that he advises every year. Danny Schuster, co-author of the famous text, 'Grape Growing and Winemaking in a Cool Climate', which has been obligatory reading for Oenology students worldwide for many years, has been fine tuning our vineyard with all his worldly expertise; the resulting quality is there for all to experience.
And that is everyone in the ‘team’, apart from Neko the vineyard cat, rescued from a dubious back alley in Nottingham, who is known to all our visitors and kept me company up every row of the vineyard trellis ......well OK, when it was fine! C'mon, I am a cat - damn it!