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One of the biggest reasons I moved here was that every year Chris’s vineyard produced the best Chardonnay and the best reds that we received at the winery. And I had worked with Chris’s fruit in ’87, ’88, ’89 and ’90 before coming here in ’91.
Her commitment and skill in winemaking, as well as the increased scale of the winery, saw Chris Pask, influenced by Kate, widen the expertise of the group by employing Michael Collins as vineyard manager. Increased sophistication in the winery and in the vineyard was a characteristic of Hawke’s Bay winegrowing in the 1990s.
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Michael Collins became responsible for the viticulture of CJ Pask in 1996. At Roseworthy (the agricultural college now part of the University of Adelaide) in the early 1990s, as a mature student, he chose the viticultural option because he believed that great wines were expressions of their site and he wanted to understand that more fully. His experience at Penfolds in the Coonawarra and at Vidal convinced him further that ‘all the big changes and all the big influences in quality and future development in wine must surely come from the vineyard’.
After discussion with the existing staff he defined his task as adjusting the mix of different varieties in the vineyard on the basis of the last decade’s experience of growing on these Gimblett Road sites, and improving the quality of the fruit so that premium wines could be produced from it:
Right from the start, Kate felt, and I agreed with her, that Chardonnay was the white and Merlot the red that performed best out here. So the reserve Chardonnay and the reserve Merlot blocks were the ones I went into. And our newer plantings, which were on good