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In the heart of the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury is the Ataahua vineyard. The original vineyard was first planted in the early 1980’s and was among some of the earliest vineyards planted in the valley however the recent acquisition of a larger property on MacKenzies Road in the Waipara Valley has meant an increase in vineyard size and range of varieties.
Purchased in 2020 by Andrew Grant and Stephanie Henderson-Grant, the now named Ataahua vineyard is home to Ataahua Wines and the Grant family. Following many years of involvement in the wine industry – including winemaking, wine sales and marketing, and business management – Andrew and Stephanie decided to follow a dream and began producing handcrafted wine from their own vineyard. 2008 heralded the first vintage of Ataahua Wine.
Soils are predominantly clay loams over a shingle seam varying in depth, all overlying a deep limestone base. The mountain ranges to the east and west are mainly limestone rock, eroding to give the valley soils a significant lime component. At a latitude of 42.9 S and only 10 kilometres “as the crow flies” from the Pacific Ocean to the east, the valley lies in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps – forming a warm dry meso climate ideal for growing high quality grapes for wine.
Irrigation for young vines is supplied via a dam shared with neighbouring vineyards.
The vines enjoy the warmth of long summer sunshine hours and an autumn traditionally very warm during daylight hours and much cooler at night. This diurnal temperature difference contributes to the intensity of flavour and the ripeness/acidity balance so critical for the best wine grapes.
Sheltered from the cooling easterly sea breezes by a range of limestone hills, the Waipara Valley enjoys the long warm dry summers that are ideal for fruit ripening.
Vines are hand tended, with much care taken in ensuring the vines are in good health and well balanced. Cropping levels are kept low allowing good concentration of flavour and an even ripening in the fruit while canopies are kept open to reduce risk of disease and to increase sunlight and airflow.
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