Map Of Christchurch New Zealand
John Belsham made the first wine for the Roses under their Wairau Valley label in 1990 in the Rapaura winery. Not surprisingly, it was Sauvignon Blanc. After the difficult vintage of 1995, in a four-way partnership with Matua Valley (Ross and Bill Spence), Nautilus (owned by wine distribution company Negociants) and John Belsham (Foxes Island Wines), the Roses bought the Rapaura winery. Their wine was made there for a further five years before they decided they needed their own winery:
This Rapaura winery has really served us very, very well in the last ten years. But circumstances are changing. Matua has been taken over by Beringer Blass and they have already signalled that they are going to grow. I think the demand on the Rapaura facility will grow enormously in the next few years and it’s probably going to be something that’s twice the size. Instead of a 5000-tonne winery it’ll be a 10,000-tonne winery in another three or four years that is going to require considerable investment from us as a 25 per cent shareholder. And we’ve just decided that we think we’d be better putting that money into something that we own ourselves and control one hundred per cent. Moreover, the harvest window is not getting any bigger. And virtually all the increase in production is for Sauvignon Blanc, which all falls within about a two- to three-week window.
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The similarity with John and Brigid Forrest’s arguments for having adequate capacity to harvest Sauvignon Blanc quickly, when it is ripe and ready, is striking. No wonder the mechanical harvesters are often working at night during the Marlborough vintage.
The Roses’ decision to build a winery also fitted with the life course of their family and their enterprise:
Our youngest son is almost a winemaker. He’s got this semester at Lincoln to finish. Rapaura is a contract facility and we have permanent staff on hand who do everything for everyone under our instructions. It’s not the sort of place that really lends itself to fostering more family involvement, which we can see coming up in the next generation. Hence our decision to step out.
The Roses decided to build a boutique winery with a capacity to vinify 1000 tonnes of grapes but with the possibility of expanding later.
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