At Nautilus we like to keep things simple so we have a small (and friendly!) team. A small team means everyone can be fully involved in the winemaking from start to finish. It also means Clive, our winemaker, can spend his time in the winery making wine rather than managing a large team of people. It is a pretty hands-on approach.
Great winery facilities mean that we can pick our grapes when they are ripe rather than being governed by logistics and we have a great deal of control over things like the amount of extraction (the colour and flavour) we get out of the grape skins.
Family ownership means we have the benefit of generations of experience through the highs and lows of wine-growing – our owner Robert Hill Smith is a fifth-generation vigneron – and also means that we take a long-term, cautious approach. We only make a change if we are really, really convinced it adds to the quality of what we do.
This philosophy is shared by our ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Family of Twelve. This is a group of 12 family-owned wineries that represents a selection of great wines from each of NZ’s winegrowing regions. We are extremely proud to be part of this group and enjoy sharing ideas and time with our extended family!
You can find more information about our winemaking and viticulture throughout this website, however feel free to drop us a line if you can’t find the information you are looking for – we will do our best to help!
Our energetic and innovative viticultural and winemaking team takes the approach of blending several different fruit parcels to achieve layers of complexity in the wines, focusing on their texture and mouth-feel. Our state-of-the-art but small-scale winemaking facilities give them the tools to achieve this.
Whilst Nautilus wines can easily be enjoyed on their own, we believe they are even better when paired with delicious food and the philosophy of creating food-friendly wines is paramount for winemaker Clive Jones.
The Nautilus Pinot Cellar
Nautilus Estate Winery is unusual in effectively having two wineries side by side. The first was built in 2000 and is dedicated to the inspiring but sometimes infuriating grape that is Pinot Noir. The second built in 2006 is for white wine making facility to process our Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. This facility allows us to precisely control the winemaking process and has improved the environmental footprint of the winery by reducing energy requirements and waste.
The original Pinot Noir winery construction was quite radical in Marlborough at the time and we believe it was the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Using the principles of gravity flow, this facility allows us to handle Pinot Noir grapes as gently as possible in order to allow the natural intense flavours and aromas – the expression of the different vineyards – to come to the fore.
A mixture of open-top fermenting tanks, each able to hold between one and eight tonnes of grapes, are fitted with both heating and cooling capacity. This enables us to cold soak the grapes for five to seven days at 10-12°C to extract all the beautiful fragrance of pinot noir as well as good colour from the skins before alcoholic fermentation begins. It also allows us to warm or cool ferments as necessary.
For our larger tanks, a three-head pneumatic plunger inspired by the revolutionary engineering at Willakenzie Estate in Oregon gently plunges and rolls the cap during the cold soak and fermentation allowing us total control over the extraction of the wine. Our smaller tanks are plunged by hand or foot. After fermentation, we use gravity to drain the young wines off the skins and transfer them to French barriques.
Nautilus is unusual in effectively having two wineries side by side. The first was built in 2000 and is dedicated to the inspiring but sometimes infuriating grape that is Pinot Noir. The second built in 2006 is for white wine making facility to process our Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
The Nautilus White Winery
The white wine winery has an efficient receival area which means that grapes arrive into the winery in perfect condition. We use locally designed and built hydraulic tipping drainers – Taylor’s Engineering ‘Tipping Tanks’ – to manage skin contact time for Sauvignon Blanc, and a pneumatic Diemme press allows us to whole bunch press our Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and also the grapes for Nautilus Cuvée (a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
In the winery itself, all tanks are insulated for precise temperature control and energy efficiency, meaning we can chill and stabilise the wine in any tank. We compost all grape marc on-site, creating 250-300 cubic metres of valuable vineyard mulch to return to the vineyards each year.
Wines are then filtered using a ceramic cross-flow filter which is very gentle on the wines and minimises waste.