Mangaorapa is a truly spectacular piece of land that looks eastward across a rolling valley towards coastal hills that provide shelter from the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean on Porangahau Beach. Open to sunshine from the north, the southern and western sides of the valley are flanked by more of Hawke’s Bay’s sculptural hills and beyond these, the hinterland of Southern Hawke’s Bay.
In this special location and under the guidance of viticulture specialist A.D.Clarke, a small trial vineyard of just under 3 hectares of pinot noir was established by Bill and Johanna Mouat in the winter of 2001. Four tonnes of grapes were initially harvested from that pilot vineyard and following the success of the resultant wines, the operation was expanded to with further plantings of pinot noir along with sauvignon blanc and pinot gris.
The Mangaorapa Estate vineyard currently covers 17 hectares (40 acres) of a 100 hectare river terrace in the southwest corner of the original Mangaorapa Station. 60 years of farming this land and monitoring climatic influences has allowed for the best site selection for each variety of grapes planted. Within each microclimate site there can be marked flavour differences that enables the winemaker to enhance a wines direction within the ‘Mangaorapa style’ profile.
The soil in the vineyard is a unique blend of argillite gravel and a clay/ loam mix. Argillite is a highly compacted sedimentary or slightly metamorphic rock consisting primarily of particles of clay or silt and sits somewhere between shale and slate. This very free draining soil combination extends to a depth of at least 40 metres and provides an ideal medium for the cultivation of grapevines. Surrounded by established shelter trees and New Zealand native bush this warm northeast facing vineyard has an inland maritime climate with a relatively low frost risk.
The prevailing winds are west to northwest and are a considerable factor in promoting some vine stress. This stress concentrates flavours in the grapes and aids disease control in a natural manner resulting in a minimal number of control applications. The vineyard is certified as ‘Sustainably Managed’ and the viticulture practices are as close to organic as possible. A large water storage dam supporting wildlife and a natural wetland area ensures a sustainable and valuable water resource for the vineyard. Together with the native forest and ongoing conservation plantings, these resources assist the goal of a zero carbon rated footprint for Mangaorapa Estate wines.
“The exciting thing about this pocket of land here at Mangaorapa is that because we have test-drilled for water in the past, we know that the argillite terrace is at least 40 metres deep” says Bill Mouat, “which means the roots of our vines have almost limitless potential”.