“Wairau” is a Maori term meaning “Many Waters”. This sub-region is broadly defined by its proximity to the 170-kilometre Wairau River that meets the sea at the now famous “Cloudy Bay”. This area is home to some of Marlborough’s earliest established vineyards.
Soils: The soil is a river flood plain which is extremely variable from stony river wash to fine, deep alluvium seams.
Terrain: The land is typically flat with gently undulating areas where river flows have occurred. The area slowly elevates up as you move West from the river mouth.
Flavour Profiles: Sauvignon Blancs tend to show intense characteristic gooseberry, tropical and passionfruit flavours. Pinot Noirs tend to show more pretty red fruit notes and have a soft juicy tannin structure.
This sub-region refers to a group of smaller valleys that run broadly North to South and which meet the larger Wairau Valley at their Northern end. While some of Marlborough’s earliest vineyards were planted on the flat valley floors, the slopes have been developed much more recently with more modern clones and viticultural practices. This sub-region is considerably drier than the Wairau Valley and is home to much of the region’s most exciting Pinot Noir plantings.
Soils: Older variable soils are found in this region, particularly wind-blown loess over underlying stony gravels on the valley floors and clay on the rolling hill slopes.
Terrain: Fingers of elevated land extend into the valley areas and rise to superbly orientated slopes facing North.
Flavour Profiles: Sauvignon Blancs tend to show notes of green apple and citrus. Pinot Noirs tend to have more mid palate weight and darker fruit flavours.
The Awatere Valley is far more dramatic than the tranquil Wairau Valley. Named after the Awatere River (“Awatere” means “fast flowing stream” in the local Maori language), tiny river terraces are incised into the steep cliffs, and the elevation rises quickly towards the high country. The soil here is quite different from the rest of Marlborough with a base layer of a sedimentary mudstone known by the name of “Papa”. Fossilised shells are often found imbedded in the papa – a reminder that most of New Zealand has emerged from under the sea.
Soils: Glacial outwash gravels lie over papa on the river terraces with wind-blown loess over clay on the rolling hills.
Terrain: A mix of river plains, river terraces and undulating rolling hills. Again, this sub-region is diverse with various terrains as you move up into the high-country.
Flavour Profiles: Sauvignon Blancs tend to be particularly aromatic smelling of fresh herbs and cut grass. Pinot noir tends to be more perfumed and spicier with a firmer tannin structure.
This twenty hectare block on the North Bank of the Wairau River is planted with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The flavours and aromas are quite different from the South side of the river.
This twenty-five-hectare vineyard is an area of river gravels that were once part of the old "Opawa river" flood plain and is very free draining. It is the backbone of our Sauvignon Blancs today.
The Lanark Lane vineyard consists of twelve hectares of very well established Sauvignon Blanc. This site is situated on an elevated terrace slightly further upstream in the gravely Wairau Valley.
Seven hectares of classic stony 'Rapaura' soils, Renwick was our first vineyard and is planted with a sample of each variety that we grow.
Clay Hills Vineyard comprises five and a half hectares of mature Pinot Noir with a good selection of premium clones in the Omaka Valley. It is the major component for Nautilus Pinot Noir.
Kohori Vineyard sits 40 metres above sea level on the Wairau Valley floor. The climate is warm with early ripening Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Murray and Vicky Gane – Grower since 1989
A supplier of Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling base.
Location: Selmes Road, lower Rapaura area, Wairau Valley.
Elevation: 10 metres above sea level.
Soil characteristics: fertile sandy and loamy alluvium.
Climate: Cooler, late season ripening.
Sauvignon Blanc: Mass Selection. Typical flavours are red capsicum, passionfruit and boxwood
Jim and Debbie Greer – Grower since 1989
A supplier of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay..
Location: Rapaura Road, Wairau Valley floor.
Elevation: 40 metres above sea level.
Soil characteristics: Well drained loamy and sandy alluvium.
Climate: Warm, early ripening.
Sauvignon Blanc: Mass selection. Wines have ripe tropical fruit and pungent passionfruit skin characters.
Ivan and Marg Sutherland – Grower since 1992
A supplier of Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling base from organically managed vineyards.
Location: Fairhall area, Southern Valleys.
Elevation: 40 metres above sea level.
Soil characteristics: well drained loamy and sandy alluvium.
Climate: Dry, mid season ripening.
Sauvignon Blanc: Mass selection. Wine flavours typically show gooseberry, red capsicum and some passionfruit notes.
Alex and Sharon Vyborny – Grower since 2000
A supplier of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
Location: Omaka Valley, Southern Valleys.
Elevation: 70 metres above sea level.
Soil characteristics: Well drained stony alluvium.
Climate: Cool and dry. Late season ripening
Sauvignon Blanc: Mass selection. Gooseberry, capsicum and boxwood are typical flavours.
Grower since 2006
A supplier of Pinot Noir.
Location: Ben Morven, Southern Valleys.
Elevation: 90 metres above sea level.
Soil Characteristics: Wind-blown Loess over clay, North-facing slope.
Climate: Dry and often windy – early ripening.
Pinot Noir: Clones 5, Ata Rangi, 667 & 777. Wines from this vineyard are typically fragrant and fruity with fine grained tannins.
Marlborough is a stunningly beautiful grape-growing region situated on the northeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand at 41.3 degrees south.
The region is sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, derived from the roaring forties and from the southerly winds which funnel up from Antarctica. The region’s local climate is moderated by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean which creates a cool, maritime climate.
Marlborough enjoys some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand averaging over 2,400 hours annually. The average summer (January) temperature of 23.8°C and winter (July) average of 12.8°C belie a large diurnal temperature range: a variation of 15°C/60°F between the cool clear nights and bright sunny days is not uncommon. Daytime temperatures over the harvest period of March/April average 19°C - 21.5 °C with a night time temperature range of 7.5°C – 10.5°C. This diurnal temperature range is significant for the accumulation and retention of flavours.
Wine Marlborough, the local winegrowers’ association, defines Marlborough as having three main sub-regions. Each sub-region has distinctive soils and climatic characteristics. Nautilus draws grapes from specially selected sites in each sub-region in order to harness their diverse flavour components to add layers of complexity into our wines.
Over the past 20 years, we have searched out special spots within the Marlborough region that give what we think are distinctive and exciting flavour profiles to the grapes grown there. Early plantings were on the alluvial flood plains of the Wairau River focussed around the Rapaura area. We also saw potential in the Awatere Valley, drawing fruit from there in the early 1990s which led to the purchase of our Awatere River Vineyard in 1998. Later developments have encompassed sites on the northern and southern sides of the Wairau Valley, and into the adjacent Awatere Valley. Meso-climatic differences brought about by altitude, aspect and topography combine with diverse soils to produce unique individual growing conditions and wines.
Viticulture in Marlborough has evolved rapidly, from an early general farming approach towards more specialised wine-growing techniques which target the unique requirements of each site and variety.
An ever deeper knowledge of what this land is capable of producing provides direction for our husbandry of these vineyard sites.
The Nautilus Estate vineyards, grower blocks and winery have all been 100% accredited to the pioneering Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand (SWNZ) programme for a number of years. The SWNZ programme was introduced in 1995 and is a framework of industry standards to encourage and aid growers to manage their vineyards in a way that is more sustainable in the long term. The New Zealand wine industry aims to be the first in the world to be 100% accredited and aims to achieve this by vintage 2012.
As part of our efforts to use water more efficiently, Nautilus Estate was chosen by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as a case study of a business managing the threat of climate change in 2009. Read more here.
Our Renwick vineyard is managed under organic protocols, with the intention of integrating the knowledge gained here into the management of our other sites.