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The first grapes were planted at Ake Ake Vineyard in 1998, the block in front of the restaurant..
John Clarke and Aynsley Quenault purchased the property in 2004. Aynsley moved back to New Zealand having travelled the world for ten years. John moved here from Jersey in the Channel Islands where his family had been wine merchants for 5 generations.
We went to the library and took some books out on how to grow grapes and make wine. Our first two wines from 2005, our first full vintage, both won medals. This is not that hard we said!! Fools.
We set about planting more vines and building a winery and have increased the vineyard so we now grow seven varieties and source a few tonne of grapes from other quality growers. At one point a third of the vineyard was planted with the Spanish grape Tempranillo, and although it produced great wine its crop was very low and it was very prone to all the grape mildews. After giving the variety too many chances, out it came, to be replaced by some Albarino, Pinotage and Chardonnay.
We are still planting vines, over the next couple of years we plan to nearly double our Chambourcin plantings and we planted 400 new Pinotage in 2015.
In 2012 we started the process of converting the vineyard to Organic grape growing. We had always been low on chemical use and as I did all the spraying, our family live on the vineyard and we invite customers and guests to our restaurant, we thought it would be safer and a lot more pleasant for all of us if we took our property down the Organic route. As of October 2015 Ake Ake Vineyard is the only fully certified Organic vineyard north of Auckland
In the vineyard we spend a lot of time opening up the canopy by extensive leaf removal around the bunches and shoot positioning, this lets the sun and breeze in, which keeps the bunches and canopy dry to prevent mildews and rot and helps the grapes ripen.
In the winery we basically just guide the wine from grape to bottle with as little interference as possible, we usually add just yeast for the fermentation and a little sulphur to protect the wine once bottled. If the grapes are in good condition then it’s down to me not to mess it up in the winery.
All our wines are made on the vineyard and are bottled here unfiined, this means they have been clarified naturally using time and/or filtering rather than using, gelatine, eggs, dairy or fish products. We do not add copper, gums, caramel or grape concentrate to our wines.
Cheers John & Aynsley