STONYRIDGE is the leading winery on Waiheke island in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland region on the North Island of New Zealand. Stonyridge specialises in red wines based on Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Stonyridge Vineyard was founded by by the present owner Dr Stephen White PhD, MBA, OBE. Stephen obtained a Diploma of Horticulture at Lincoln College, Canterbury University. In 1981 Stephen White returned to New Zealand after working in wineries in California and Italy. Stephen came to love the culture and lifestyle of the Mediterranean and the great red wines of France, Tuscany and California. His aim was to locate a site where Bordeaux red wine grape varieties could be ripened to perfection in NZ. After extensive climatic research he discovered that the ideal site was right under his nose on Waiheke Island. As a fifth generation Aucklander with an uncle and aunt farming on the island and as a great lover of islands around the world, Waiheke was his destiny.
The first Bordeaux vines and olive trees were planted in 1982, with the help of close friends and family. Dr John McLeod joined him as winemaking partner from 1984 to 1988. In 1984 Stephen returned to Bordeaux for a final training period and completed the vintage at Chateau d’Angludet, Cantenac-Margaux under the tutelage of Peter Sichel. In 1985 Stephen and John made the Larose that rocketed Stonyridge to national fame with a wine that was hailed as the greatest red wine ever made in NZ.
Terroir | ‘Waiheke Island is famous for producing great red wines because of its low summer rainfall and consistently high temperatures. Stonyridge is located in a gently north-facing valley, 1 km from both Onetangi Beach to the north and Putiki Bay to the south. It is sheltered from the cold south-westerly winds by Stonyridge, a long ridge running from one coast to the other. A nearby rock quarry gives an indication of the soil type. The soil is poor low-fertility Waitemata clay saturated with nodules of magnesium, manganese, and iron oxides. Magnesium is the central molecule of chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis, much loved by grape vines and so often deficient in NZ soils. The only fertilizers added are natural-ground limestone and a homemade seaweed emulsion,’ (Doug Wregg, 2011).
Vineyards ‘Six hectares of deliberately low-yielding vines, planted in free draining clay soil containing nodules of manganese. These nodules are said to contribute to the wine’s complexity. The vineyard is managed without irrigation. There is a further two hectares at nearby Vina del Mar, but the grapes from this particular vineyard are not destined for Larose. Stonyridge is also a wildlife haven, lavender bushes are planted for bees, there are cork trees and Stonyridge claims that their olive grove was the first to be established commercially in New Zealand (and very good the olive oil is too). In addition to the five Bordeaux varieties there are experimental plantings of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Tannat,’ (Doug Wregg, 2011).
Organic certification | Yes.
Chardonnay | ‘Chardonnay is also planted but this may be pulled out and replaced with red varieties to allow Stonyridge to concentrate on the distinctive red wines for which they are best known,’ (Doug Wregg, 2011).
Pilgrim | Made in the style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Larose | The flagship wine. Bordeaux-style blend.
Doug Wregg, Les Caves de Pyrène list (July 2011).
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p251.
Stonyridge Vineyard, 80 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel 09.372.8766 | www.stonyridge.com