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Food and DrinkWine

Changes of scenery proves fruitful

By January 29, 2015April 29th, 2015No Comments

When Gary and Val­ley Neale came back from work­ing over­seas in the early 1990s, they returned to Nel­son, the town where they’d met, and con­sidered wheth­er to try grow­ing grapes or apples.

We met a grow­er who said whatever we went into there would be good years and bad, and if we weren’t pas­sion­ate about what we were doing, the bad years would be hell,” explains Gary. “We real­ised our pas­sion lies with wine — pro­du­cing qual­ity and focus­ing on pur­ity and sus­tain­ab­il­ity, and we were the first to grow grapes on the Waimea Plains.”

With a first vin­tage under their own label in 1999, fol­lowed by a pur­pose-built winery in 2003, Bright­water has cemen­ted a strong repu­ta­tion in the wine mar­ket over the last two dec­ades both here and over­seas, with a slew of awards and accol­ades to prove it.

Under the tal­en­ted eye of wine­maker Tony Southg­ate, the vine­yard makes wine from mul­tiple grape vari­et­ies, includ­ing Sauvign­on Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardon­nay, Pinot Noir and Mer­lot, send­ing up to 10,000 cases a year all over the globe.

Their Lord Ruther­ford Reserve range, named after a loc­al sci­ent­ist you may have heard of, has been receiv­ing atten­tion in recent years, win­ning Cham­pi­on Chardon­nay and Cham­pi­on Wine of the Show at Auckland’s 2012 Roy­al East­er Show, along­side Tony being named New Zea­l­and Wine­maker of the Year. Adding this to Small Busi­ness of the Year and then Supreme Busi­ness of the Year at the Nel­son Busi­ness Awards means the Neales have come a long way from stand­ing in Nel­son, fresh off a plane, con­tem­plat­ing apples or grapes.

Sit­ting in the sun out­side his vineyard’s cel­lar door with views across the rows of grapes and out to the Abel Tas­man and Kahur­angi nation­al parks, nowhere near a desk or office, Gary explains that Brightwater’s philo­sophy comes down to the simple premises of pur­ity and taste.

We’re after a qual­ity wine,” he says. “There should be a flow from the aroma to the taste in the mouth, the feel in the mouth, the roll-over to the after­taste and finally the swallow.”

And, per­haps offer­ing an inad­vert­ent ana­logy for identi­fy­ing your call­ing and then achiev­ing it as he has done, he sums up Brightwater’s wine­mak­ing: “We take it from the taste and work backwards.”



Featured wine

The Lord Ruther­ford Reserve Chardon­nay has intense aromas of peaches and but­ter­scotch, with con­cen­trated stone fruit, cit­rus fla­vours and a well-bal­anced palate.

These grapes were a spe­cial pick from Brightwater’s sus­tain­ably cer­ti­fied vine­yard, with leaf and green fruit remov­al mean­ing only intensely fla­voured fruit made it through to wine­mak­ing. French oak bar­rique fer­ment­a­tion res­ul­ted in the full-bod­ied, finely bal­anced com­plex­ity of an award-win­ning Chardonnay.