Our luxury bed and breakfast is called Clearview Lodge but our wine is labeled under Clements Estate, as is our olive oil, jams and jellies.
In September 2001 we planted our Pinot Noir vineyard, with a
number of different Pinot Noir clones (to give more complexity to the wine). Our
boutique vineyard (725 vines) is ideally located on what was the old river
terrace of the Waimakariri River. We have a 30-degree slope facing sun north
(for northern hemisphere, think south facing), which increases the heat units
for the vines, which is beneficial for the ripening season.
Peter Gatehouse is our winemaker, from Gatehouse Wines, Jowers
Road, West Melton (about 20 minutes drive West). Peter has advised us from the
start, on design, sourcing cuttings and planting out, through to pruning and
spraying. Peter also lectures at Lincoln University in Vineyard Science and
Management. He makes our own wine with just our grapes i.e. not mixed with
anyone else's. We visit the winery from time to time, to taste the wines and
discuss options if there are choices to be made and to help with bottling and
The increased heat in the spring has its advantages and
disadvantages. In Canterbury there is always the danger of late spring frosts,
when there can already be 6-12 inches of growth on the vines i.e.
September-November. In 2008, we installed an overhead sprinkler system, which is
mostly effective in avoiding frost damage. As a bed and breakfast guest, you
will not be woken by helicopters hovering over the vineyard! With such a small
vineyard this would clearly not be economic! You may, however, start your day
with our Pinot Noir Jelly (sorry there is no alcohol left in it!).
We produced our first vintage in 2004, with 2 barrels or 54 dozen
bottles. This is aging nicely and has matured over time. Our 2005 crop was frost
affected, so we chose to make a Rose' that year (sweetened and served chilled),
which is delicious enjoyed on a sunny afternoon, under the sun umbrella in the
garden. 2006 was our best year and has produced our best and largest vintage (3
barrels or 80 dozen bottles) - see tasting notes on the 'Wine' page. In 2007, we
were again hit hard with frost, so we had a very small crop. We had been keen
for Peter to try making a Port, as another alternative for our guests to enjoy.
We are pleased with the result and it is available in the guest lounge, in the
decanter above the fire place. Our 2008 and 2009 (recently bottled) Pinot Noirs
are now available for guests to sample and purchase.
Our rates include hospitality. Whether this means some wine out
under the sun umbrella when you arrive or drinks at 6pm before you go out to
dinner, or maybe a glass of wine or port when you get back after dinner. For our
guests who prefer white wines, we have a selection of local wines, mainly from
Waipara but also from Marlborough and other parts of New Zealand. 5 Star Club
Pass and Boutique Break packages may include a bottle of wine. If you do
not drink alcohol and wine was part of your package, you may choose our Pinot
Noir Jelly or Quince Jelly or a bottle of our Clements Estate Olive Oil.
Work In Our Vineyard
Sue starts pruning in the vineyard in June (weather and
guests permitting!) and she can usually be found in the vineyard on any sunny
winters afternoon. The work in the vineyard continues year round. Whether it is
shoot selecting or bud rubbing (Robins job), leaf plucking or pinching out
laterals, once they start to grow in the spring there is no stopping them. Robin
takes care of mowing and the spray program (to prevent powdery mildew).By the
end of January we, hopefully, have everything under control and can put the nets
on. We have an endless supply of bird visitors who would like nothing better
than to eat any grape they can get their beaks into.
It takes 3-4 hours to put
the nets over the top of the vines (a job for both of us and Sue's Mum and Dad)
and then 4 or 5 days to clip/sew them up. Sue and her Mum slide up and down the
rows doing this task (thanks Mum!). Once the nets are on there isn't as much to
be done in the vineyard before harvest (time for golf!). Nonetheless, Sue may be
found with her trusty scissors snipping off the the shoulders of some bunches
through the nets (these grapes aren't as ripe as the rest of the bunch).
Harvest day is sometime in April or May. We have a harvest
'festival' for friends and family. We don't pay our pickers in money but provide
a delicious morning tea and lunch, with our wines to wash it down and a bottle
of wine or olive oil to take home (we also do the same harvest lunches for our
olive picking in June or July). Prior to harvest, Sue takes randomly selected
grape samples to Peter Gatehouse for testing. The grapes are ready to pick when
the brix (i.e. sugar level), acids and PH are around the right levels. Then we
have to watch the weather forecast for suitable weather i.e. no rain. When the
lunch and harvest festivities are over, we take our grapes out to the winery and
put them through the de-stalker and then Peter takes care of them and updates us
on progress from time to time.