Riwaka River Estate Needs to be a new zealand vineyard you experience!

While visiting New Zealand’s south island, there are plenty of great wineries to choose from.  Many are concentrated in the world renowned Marlborough or Hawke’s Bay regions, but if you venture out a little further you’ll find some hidden treasures.

Located just outside of Nelson at the north end of the south island, Riwaka River Estate is one New Zealand vineyard that’s full of surprises!

Who is riwaka river estate?

The passion Amber Robertson and Paul Miles have for wine is visible immediately when you visit Riwaka River Estate.  When you pull into the driveway you can see that this vineyard doubles as a home for their family.  You immediately feel welcome!

Amber and Paul purchased the land and vineyard in 2008, while living in London, England.  They then spent 5 years working with a viticultural consultant sampling bottles of wine they enjoyed to figure out how to go from grape to bottle while maintaining all the delicious flavours and complexity.

They moved back to New Zealand in 2013 and began producing their wine.  the young family continues to do it all, though friends and neighbours have been known to help out with the annual harvest.

The Vineyard

Riwaka River Estate has 1.5 hectares of grapes that require daily attention.  They avoid the use of pesticides by their careful attention to pruning to allow for airflow, allowing the grapes to dry out on their own instead of attracting unwanted insects. The grape bunches themselves are also pruned to remove tails” and “bobbly bits” while maximizing flavour.

This painstaking work results in an annual priduction of 5000 bottles in 3 varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

This New Zealand vineyard sits on 25 acres of land, but it’s not all used for wine production.  They’ve got 400 olive trees, and 10 acres of hops growing here too!

The olive trees are 20 years old, producing 2 types of olives: Purple and Barnea.  They take all summer and fall to ripen, then the harvest begins in the winter.

If you’ve never had an olive oil tasting, it’s definitely a fun experience.  We dipped some bread into the oil and enjoyed the light, flavourful taste.  The most interesting part (to me) was that there was no oily aftertaste!

The hops are grown and harvested locally, then sold to the local craft breweries who work their magic to create some very unique brews.

But How’s The wine??

We sampled each of the 3 varietals produced at Riwaka River Estate, and here are my tasting notes:

Sauvignon Blanc: Nice minerality, which is rare in New Zealand.  In fact Riwaka grapes are grown on a natural bed of limestone – the only one on the south island.

Chardonnay: Light flavour, with a light oak flavour.  Just enough to know it’s not there without overpowering the grape.  They use French Oak barrels here, and assign the new or old barrels depending on the strength of the grape flavours (newer barrels provide a more intense oak flavour).

Pinot Noir: Really nice aroma and great berry flavour, which I often find is lacking in pinot noir.

why are you still here?

Riwaka River Estate is definitely a gem in the New Zealand vineyard landscape.  

I truly can’t thank Amber enough for showing us around and sharing her stories with us.  It’s not every day you can stop into a vineyard and find yourself face-to-face with the incredible people who created something amazing for you to enjoy.

It’s time to stop reading, hop in a car, jump on a plane, or do whatever you can to get to Riwaka River Estate!  I’ll see you there…

Have you found another amazing New Zealand vineyard that I should visit?

Be sure to comment below and let me know what your favourite feature was, and where I should visit next!

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Here is a list of the resources mentioned in this post:

Riwaka River Estate – Check out their website and start planning your next visit!

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