Kahurangi Estate was established on the original Seifried Estate site in Upper Moutere more than 20 years ago and grew into a significant wine and liquor production and distribution business before then owners Greg and Amanda day sold the business off in parts.
The Kahurangi Estate brand and distribution portion of the business was purchased by three senior staff members and another couple who bring strong innovation and marketing skills to the team of new owners.
The biggest changes for the brand are the fact they have grapes specifically grown for them to meet the market requirements and wine made for them to their specifications under contract at the winery in Upper Moutere. A national sales team market their wines and other products throughout the country via retail outlets and restaurants, the export market also plays a significant role and while they don’t have a cellar door outlet at present, it is on the cards.
Co-owner Dave Barrett says, “We aren’t a virtual wine company that just sells other companies’ wine with our label on it. Like many wineries, we buy fruit from a range of growers and we employ contract winemakers who make the wines under our direction. We really engage with them so they understand the style of wines we want to produce, just like any owner would do with a winemaker they employ.
“We work directly with our growers as well. At certain times during the season, we visit the vineyards and talk with growers about various things from any concerns to fruit quality and volumes. As harvest approaches it becomes a little more manic with frequent testing of fruit for ripeness, flavour and pH. Together with our winemakers (and the weather forecasters) we make decisions around when the fruit is in prime condition for harvesting to make the style of wines we need for our market.
“Once the wines are ready, we’ll systematically go through a process of tank and barrel selection with the winemakers to choose which wines are destined for which of our various labels, with the very best batches going into our premium Kahurangi Reserve wines. Twice a year we carry out barrel tasting and selection of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This exhausting but vitally important task is generally a 3 – 4 person team effort between us and the head winemaking team and gives us direct involvement from vine to bottle.”
By using contract growers and having wines made to their specifications the owners can focus on growing the Kahurangi Estate and Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve brands in various markets around the world, as well as right here in Nelson of course.
A few weeks ago, I met with Dave Barrett and another co-owner, Lynn Mabon, to talk about the challenges of an ever-changing wine industry and issues caused by Covid and a much smaller than average 2021 vintage.
Lynn told me that one key change was to expand the brand with a range of wines under the Kahurangi Estate Regional Selection label, “Kahurangi has imported and distributed wines from around the world for many years so it made sense for us to add wines from other New Zealand regions to our portfolio, wines that aren’t so readily produced in Nelson like a Merlot Cabernet blend from the Hawke’s Bay.
“The idea behind the regional selection is customer service – we sell a lot of wine to restaurants in Auckland, Wellington and other metropolitan centres. We promote Nelson first and foremost but sometimes they can’t be convinced so having a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc offering, for example, gives us options for getting a foot in the door and future opportunity to put Nelson wine on their lists.
“Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is such an important wine for New Zealand on the international stage so we had included one in our regional selections brand as well as the Nelson Sauvignon Blanc we produce under the Kahurangi Estate label.”
Dave says “Price is always important and we strive to over deliver on quality in relation to cost. This isn’t easy and many external factors like weather, fruit quality, competition and demand will all influence prices. In general we try to keep our Kahurangi Regional Selections range in the sub-$20 bracket.
“We are looking for but don’t currently have a Pinot Noir from Central Otago. Sourcing fruit from there at the right price is near impossible, so fortunately for Nelsonians, Pinot Noir from our great region holds its’ own with any other and is exceptional value for money by comparison.”
Other wines Kahurangi produce and sell include the Kahurangi Estate White Label range that you will find widely available in supermarkets and often on promotion for under $16; the Kahurangi Estate Reserve range that is only available to restaurants and cafes and is used as a quality wine to serve by the glass and the Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve range at the premium end for less than $30 a bottle, as well as an exceptional Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine ($36) that has received some very favourable five star reviews.
It is important to note that each of these wines is different, not just the same wine under a different label. Small parcels of fruit and barrels of wine are selected for the premium range while wines at the other end of the scale are made with the same attention to detail but in bulk rather than small batches.
When you see a Kahurangi Estate wine on the shelf at the supermarket or liquor store or on a restaurant wine list you can be assured it has been crafted by people who are passionate about producing high-quality, great value-for-money wines.
Check out their website and subscribe to their monthly newsletters so you can stay in touch with what’s happening at Kahurangi Estate and also to take advantage of special offers they roll out to subscribers on a regular basis. www.kahurangiwine.com