Our Winemaking

The Nautilus Pinot Cellar

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.

Its construction was quite radical in Marlborough at the time (this was back before the Sideways movie made Pinot Noir’s popularity skyrocket) 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.

The harvested fruit passes through a destemmer mounted on rails directly into the tanks. This avoids using a must pump which can bruise the fruit and release bitter phenolic compounds. When one tank is filled the destemmer is positioned over the next. However we do experiment with some whole bunches in some of our parcels of pinot noir, adding extra structure and complexity to the final wine.

All 16 of our open-top fermenting tanks, each able to hold 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.

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.

After fermentation, we use gravity to drain the young wines off the skins and transfer them to French barriques where they typically remain undisturbed in barrel until blending and bottling the following year.

The Nautilus White Winery

In 2006, we completed our second winery on the site: a new 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.

A very efficient receival area 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).

Our relatively small size combined with these fantastic facilities means that we have great flexibility in scheduling our harvest. Picking decisions are made based on optimal ripeness and flavour development.

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 (and our vegetable patches!) each year.

Wines are then filtered using the latest design ceramic cross flow filter which is very gentle on the wines and minimises waste.

For more information on winemaking please read the sections on each individual wine.