Pure, varietal and sustainably produced wines is Seifried Estate’s focus. Today Seifried harvest grapes from just over 250 hectares of producing vineyards across eight vineyard sites. The newest, ninth vineyard is the Seifried Lord Rutherford Vineyard which is still too young to be fruit bearing.
Each of the Seifried vineyards are located in the beautiful Nelson region and spread over three main soil types – heavy clay loam (of the Redwood Valley Vineyard), sandy silty coastal sites (Rabbit Island, Challies Block, Cornfield Vineyard and Queen Victoria Vineyard), and rocky river beds (of the Brightwater, Edens Road, Clover Road and Lord Rutherford Vineyards). Each vineyard site was selected and the grapevines have been grafted onto phylloxera resistant rootstock, with varieties and clones especially selected to make the most of the aspect, soils and micro-climate of each particular site. Such a range of micro-climates offers exciting opportunities with different characters and expressions of each variety, giving new possibilities to the blending phase.
Site selection of any new vineyard developments comes after much research to ensure each location has the soils, sunshine and water availability to suit the varieties being planted. From nursery through to vineyard, each site has been chosen and developed with varieties and clones most suited to the particular location.
With fruit coming from the Seifried’s own Estate grown vineyards, they can ensure complete control over all areas of the grape production including clone selection, irrigation, disease management, yield and fruit quality.
As the northern hemisphere winter subsides, the Nelson region prepares for the grape harvest. Nelson vintage (harvest) extends from mid-late March through until early May (depending on the season) with the grapes being picked at the peak of their ripeness.
The Redwood Valley Vineyard is a 30ha north facing slope which has a solid Moutere clay soil structure and this soil has high water holding capacity. Varieties grown on this site include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. This site was first planted in 1979 and now has Seifried’s most established vines, producing fruit with fantastic depth, complex flavours and textural components. Due to the north facing aspect of this vineyard and the very limited irrigation, ripening times are typically earlier than other Seifried vineyards and the wines show characteristic texture and palate structure.
The Brightwater Vineyard was established in 1999. This vineyard is a total 70ha, with Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Zweigelt. The soil on this site ranges from large gravelly areas to light sandy loam soils, which results in a very porous soil structure with little water holding capacity. Because of this, a large earth dam was constructed nearby in 2002 to store water for summer irrigation. The ‘Brightwater’ Vineyard lies about 15km from the sea (10km from the winery) and is nestled under the Richmond Ranges on the southern end of the Waimea Plains. The temperature at this site fluctuates more than any of our other vineyards due to its distance from the coastline, with less maritime influences playing a role.
The Rabbit Island Vineyards are situated 20km west of Nelson city on the Waimea Plains near Rabbit Island beach. These first plants (in this block now totally 60ha of vineyards) date back to 1988 when Seifried initially established this vineyard. The Rabbit Island Vineyard now includes three sub-blocks: the ‘Winery Block’, ‘Challies Block’ and ‘The Cornfield’, which all produce fruit with very slight variations and nuances on a similar stylistic theme. Lying just 1.5km from the coast, the air temperature at the Rabbit Island properties is heavily moderated by the sea. The soil here comprises a silty, sandy surface with a very gravelly sub-surface making the ground free draining, friable and easily worked. Such soil is well suited to deep rooting crops such as grapes as there is little or no clay pan. Varieties grown here include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. The Waimea River runs through the Waimea Plains and ensures the water table remains relatively high and offers an abundant supply of underground water.
The Edens Road Vineyard was established in 2006. It has boundaries with the Wairoa River and the soil consists of heavy rocks and boulders. Irrigation is key to vine survival on this site as moisture quickly moves down through the porous stone soil structure. Edens Road Vineyard is 40ha of predominately Sauvignon Blanc with just a small area of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Merlot. This vineyard is located 12km from the coast and shares similar climatic characteristics to the Brightwater vineyard, although it does tend to experience light wind draughts associated with the river.
The Queen Victoria Vineyard was purchased in 2013 however the vineyard area has expanded since the time of purchase. With just 4.5ha Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris planted when Seifried purchased it, Hermann went about converting the remaining land, which had been a kiwifruit and apple orchard into vines. The stony soils and sheltered site mean great fruit ripeness, with plenty of minerality to add structure to the palate.
The Clover Road Vineyard was purchased in 2013. Along its boundary runs the Wairoa River and soils are very rocky and boney alongside the river. This vineyard has been completely replanted as the original vines were on own roots and offered no phylloxera protection. Further to this, the entire block (including previously bare land) has since been planted out to be a productive vineyard. Varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Malbec.
The Lord Rutherford Vineyard is located in Brightwater behind the Lord Ernest Rutherford memorial. Ernest Rutherford who is famous for ‘splitting the atom’ in 1917, was born and raised in this area. Previously a dairy farm, the soils on this site are more fertile than other Seifried vineyard sites and its location on the banks of the Wai-iti River mean large river stones cover the property. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris were planted here in the spring of 2015 with the same love and care that all the Seifried vineyards enjoy. Seifried hopes to have the first harvest off this site in 2018.
Each and every grape vine planted by Hermann and his team, has been grafted onto Phylloxera resistant rootstock. All grafting has been done in-house since the first vineyard establishment on the original Upper Moutere vineyard in 1973, using various types of Phylloxera resistant rootstock.
“Almost 50,000 cuttings a year are currently being grafted, enabling a constant supply of high quality, disease free plants for future vineyard establishment.”