“Muritai”, meaning “Sea Breeze” in Maori, nestles between the bluffs of Blind River half a mile from the sea in the cooler Awatere Valley. There are recognized differences between the wines of the Awatere and Wairau valleys. Awatere wines are fresher and mineral while Wairau wines are more tropical and rounder. Blind River’s most recognizable element is a flinty, smoky minerality. Muritai was planted, mostly, in 2004.
As locals, we searched for terroir that could produce wines of exceptional quality and character as well as great values. We researched soil and climate to ensure that we could make 3 or 4 distinctive wines from one place. The soil at Muritai overlays gravel (think “Graves”) and clay. It’s the right kind of almost stone free clay that holds water, making it available to the vine’s root system in our dryer micro-climate. The depth of the underlying clay and it’s water content vary from one end of the vineyard to the other, giving us the variable growing conditions we were seeking.
Our Unique micro-climate
Muritai is located a half mile from the sea in one of the windiest and driest spots in Marlborough. Whilst bud-break is 7-10 days earlier here because of the proximity of a relatively warm sea in the spring, in the summer the breeze is stronger in the Awatere than elsewhere in Marlborough. And it’s strongest where we are, close to the sea. More wind makes our vines less prone to disease, reducing the need for treatments. Wind also reduces temperature, lowering yields and delaying maturity so the grapes see more of the cooler fall evenings. The cool evenings mean larger diurnal temperature changes as well as longer hang times, both of which help develop the aromas and flavors that give our wines their unique intensity.
In line with our mantra of Minimal Intervention, our wines are made in the vineyard. Vanessa Barker, our viticulturist, has a horticultural background and cares for the long term health of our plants rather than profits. Muritai is densely planted at 2.5m x 1.8m and we shoot thin and drop fruit to maintain limited lower yields.