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The Hay Paddock
Terry Sullivan

The Hay PaddockSummary: Waiheke Island is home to The Hay Paddock that specializes in growing Syrah. The views of the vineyards from the road above are spectacular. An earth-toned stonewall separates the vineyards from the road. The vines spread out over rolling hills with blossoming red roses marking the rows. The wines produced by The Hay Paddock reflect the terroir of the land.


Chris Canning, the co-proprietor of The Hay Paddock, recounted that he became interested in making wine while backpacking in France. Years later he decided to sell a business in New York and considered purchasing property in California to plant a vineyard. Chris, who was born in New Zealand, wanted to show his children the country before moving to California. On that trip, Chris, mentioned that the New Zealand wines he tasted were not that good and he thought that he could easily make better wine in New Zealand. He planted vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regions. He sold these vineyards in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Chris turned to Waiheke Island for his next vineyard planting.

The Hay PaddockVineyard

The Hay Paddock specializes in Syrah. Chris feels that Syrah can become the trophy grape of New Zealand. The island is partially protected from the colder and wetter weather to the west making it warmer and drier than the Auckland isthmus. The Pacific Ocean influences the climate on the island. The ocean helps keep the temperatures moderate throughout the grape-growing season. These moderate temperatures extend longer into the autumn allowing for the Syrah to fully ripen.

There are 15,000 vines planted on 12 acres of rolling hillsides. Chris explained his rationale for planting Syrah saying it is a complete grape. Syrah ripens four weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon on Waiheke Island. Extra hang time provides good levels of sugar, acid and optimal flavors and aromas. In addition to the Syrah, there are vineyard blocks of Petite Verdot.

In December of 2010, The Hay Paddock opened its Cellar Door (tasting room). The Hay Paddock is a member of The Specialist Winegrowers of New Zealand. Wines from each of the six members of this group will be available for tasting at the Cellar Door.


The Hay Paddock has merited Accredited Vineyard status under the Sustainable Winegrowing of New Zealand. Soil improvement plans with biodynamic influences are followed. Companion plants, green manure and compost help with the vitality of the vineyard. A diverse population of insects is encouraged. This helps keep the harmful insects from gaining a foothold. Sprays on the vineyard are kept at a minimum.

The Hay PaddockWines

Two labels of wines are produced. The Hay Paddock label is for wines made from hand-harvested grapes from particular rows and vines throughout the vineyard.

We tasted several wines from barrels. The 2010 Syrah was a dark purple to black color. There were black fruit and licorice nuances on the aroma and taste. Bold tannins accompanied the fruity finish. Another 2010 Syrah was made with grapes from a different selection of grapes in the vineyard. This Syrah was also dark purple to black and offered black fruit and oak notes on the aroma and taste. There were bold tannins on the finish. The 2010 Petit Verdot had violets and black fruit nuances on the aroma and taste. There were very bold tannins on the finish. Petite Verdot is blended with Syrah to make some of the wines.

The Hay PaddockThe Harvest Man label is a single vineyard handmade wine. The 2007 Harvest Man Syrah had dark fruit and earthiness on the aroma and taste. Bold tannins were on the finish. The Hay Paddock produces about 2,000 cases of wine under the labels The Hay Paddock and Harvest Man

Beginning in December 2010, wine enthusiasts visiting Waiheke Island can stop at The Hay Paddock's Cellar Door and taste wines from The Hay Paddock's portfolio as well as wines from The Specialist Winegrowers of New Zealand.

The Hay Paddock
Waiheke Island, New Zealand









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