Brookfields Vineyards History:
Founded in 1937, Brookfields Vineyards is Hawke's Bay's Oldest Boutique Winery, situated alongside the glistening waters of the Tutaekuri River, between Napier and Hastings.
The winery was purchased by the current owner and winemaker Peter Robertson, in 1977, who has since transformed Brookfields into a leading winery for New Zealand premium wines.
Purposely built as a winery - Brookfields is built on tradition and sustainability, combining the best techniques from the past and today, to produce exciting wines each year from their own or shared ownership Hawke's Bay vineyards.
The history of Brookfields is revealed in the handmade 25cm concrete blocks used to build the winery and the cellar in the 1930s. These handmade blocks create the perfect environment for ageing great wines and keeping the cellar cool during Hawke's Bay's hot summers.
Peter creates classic wines with grapes only grown in specific locations and to his strict growing policy - expressing the essence of place. Brookfields reputation has been built on stunning red wines. The 1989 'Gold Label' Cabernet / Merlot stunned traditional wine critics and the trade on its release. Its sheer weight and flavour made it the wine of the vintage. Subsequent vintages have firmly placed Brookfields as one of Hawke's Bay's best red winemakers.
Brookfields produces between 8,000 and 10,000 cases of wine each year. In a great vintage that won't change a great deal. There is no desire to push up volumes and chase expansion when there's the challenge of creating an even more dramatic wine.
The 'Burnfoot' Vineyard:
Translated the 'Burnfoot' Merlot is Scottish for the property beside the stream or river. In this instance the vineyard is adjacent the Tuki Tuki River, opposite Te Mata Peak. It is a north facing site, hence it captures maximum sunlight.
The Merlot is clone 181 which has small berry size and small bunches, and it readily achieves high sugar levels at harvest time. Due to its light cropping, the 'Burnfoot' Merlot has gained a reputation for its intensity, colour and the flavours on the palate are excellent.
The 'Burnfoot' Merlot is an excellent food wine, and can be found on tables in homes and restaurants in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom.
The 'Hillside' Vineyard:
The 'Hillside' Vineyard is a special site located between Bridge Pa and Maraekakaho in the heart of Hawke's Bay. The vineyard as shown in this photo - is grown on a gentle north facing slope.
This unique site and aspect allows for maximum sun exposure during the day and with minimal water retention in the carefully, hand tendered vines. The site is recognised by those in the know as an ideal, even a perfect spot, 'terroir' for Syrah and for producing premium, quality wine.
The 'Ohiti Estate' Vineyard:
Translated 'Ohiti' means 'the crossing'. Tamatea (a famous Maori chief and warrior) was leading his people when his dog lurched into the river and it resulted in Tamatea crossing at this point.
Ohiti Estate is on the northern side of Roy's Hill adjacent to the Ngaruroro River valley. Much of the vineyard is old river bed, hence most of the vines grow on stones.
This special site is a real heat trap, regularly being 2-3°C warmer than other wine areas in the Hawke's Bay.
Consequently our Cabernet Sauvignon vines are able to ripen every year. The aromatic varietals: Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer develop superb flavours, as so our Sauvignon Blanc vines.
The 'Bergman' Vineyard:
The 'Bergman' Vineyard is situated immediately in front of the winery, cellar door on Brookfields Road, here in Meeanee - Hawke's Bay.
It is named after the stunning garden of 'Ingrid Bergman' red roses in front of the Villa/Office which is adjacent to the vineyard. They are an attractive dark red rose, as was Ingrid in real life.
The vineyard is totally planted in Chardonnay vines. Those who visit the cellar door/ winery - have the pleasure of driving along side the 'Bergman' Chardonnay vines - with several having coloured rose bushes at the end of each row.
Once used to keep the horses working in a straight line - though now they are used to simply beautify the entrance to the winery
Peter doing some barrel sampling:
The Brookfields winemaking philosophy is to make fruit-driven wines that are enjoyable in their youth, go well with food and for those that can resist temptation, wines that respond well to cellaring.
When selecting sites for growing grapes and assessing the potential flavour development, one has to consider the terroir. It is the cumulative effect of site, soil type, climate and culture; as winemaking starts in the vineyard. The 'Bergman', 'Marshall Bank' and 'Ohiti Estate' vineyards are owned by Brookfields Vineyards, and the Lyons family own the 'Hillside' site.
"It is my belief that superior wine comes from superior fruit, great wines are made in the vineyard. Much of the winemaking at Brookfields is traditional. The 'Bergman' Chardonnay is barrel fermented. The Reserve reds are hand plunged and then aged in quality oak barrels for at least a year. Time is a winemaker's friend."
- Peter Robertson.