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Craggy Range Winery, Part 2: Gimblett Gravels
Kathy Sullivan

Craggy Range was the inspiration of Terry Peabody and Steve Smith who established the winery in 1997. Craggy Range has a winery in the Gimblett Gravels region in Hawke’s Bay. While the winery has vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels District, they also have vineyards in other areas of New Zealand. Grapes from these other vineyards are sent to the winery facility in Gimblett Gravel. The Gimblett Gravels facility is not open to the public. However a beautiful facility in Havelock North has a Cellar Door and restaurant. The Havelock North site has wonderful photo opportunities both with the winery building and the Giants as a backdrop for the vineyards.

Craggy Range Winery, Gimblett GravelsGimblett Gravels Vineyard

Gimblett Gravels covers 800 hectares (almost 2,000 acres) of rocky, pebbly soil. Craggy Range has 100 hectares of grapes under vine in this region of little soil. The area is also short of water and nutrients in the soil. According to Rod Easthope, winemaker, if soil doesn’t hold water than it doesn’t hold many nutrients. Compost is added yearly and the workers add phosphate and magnesium. As the grapevines grow deeper roots, less irrigation is necessary and likewise fewer nutrients need to be added as the layer of humus deepens. Currently the winery is producing 200,000 cases of wine per year. Rod commented that at the end of the day the quality of the grapes is what is important.

The Gimblett Gravels Winery

The modern-style winery building is constructed of metal and cement. Outside, the press pad is covered with clear panels, and has a large capacity that can press seven different varieties in one day. At the winery, sorting takes place before de-steming.

Craggy Range Winery, Gimblett GravelsThe Bordeaux Red Room

In the Bordeaux Red Room grapes are fork lifted to the tops of fermentation tanks. There is no pumping of must. Pump over takes place during fermentation.

In a separate room Syrah and Pinot Noir are produced in rectangle tanks on high stilts. The stilts make it efficient to move the press under the fermentation tanks. The square shape of the tanks provides more contact between the grape skins and juice. Also, more tanks can fit into the building if they are square. Punch down is accomplished by hand.


Craggy Range Winery, Gimblett GravelsWhite Fermenting Room

A third room was the white fermentation room. The room has wide aisles and therefore they are not constrained by resources or space. Many stainless steel tanks are used for the white wines.

A fourth room was the barrel room or hall. The majority of oak barrels are purchased from three different cooperages. The oak barrels are stacked five high. Areas of this large room can be sectioned off and temperature controlled separately. The hall holds 4,500 barrels.

Craggy Range Winery, Gimblett GravelsWine Tasting

Wine tasting was with Spiegelau stemware. Chardonnay 2009 was available to taste. The grapes were harvested from the vineyard block in Gimblett Gravels. The wine was a light straw color. The aroma was reminiscent of a fruit salad. The taste also had fruit salad notes with a slight hint of oak. The finish was crisp ending with citrus. Syrah Le Sol 2009 was purple. The aroma had notes of black pepper. The taste also offered black pepper notes with nuances of plum and blackberry. There were tannins on the fruity finish. Sophia 2009 was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The color was a dark purple. The aroma and taste offered black fruit and black pepper nuances. The finish had tannins and was fruity.

The vineyards and winery in the Gimblett Gravels is not open to the public. To taste Craggy Range wines, travel to the winery in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay.

Read about the Graggy Range Giants facility in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay.







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