Sunday, 28 June 2009

Shirley McKay Talks on Thomas Tanner

Come along and hear Shirley McKay Talk on Thomas Tanner his family tree his life and more...
Don't miss it!!
Thomas Tanner was born in Wiltshire, England, probably in 1830, and was baptised at Devizes on 31 July 1831. He was the son of Mary Pontin and her husband, Joseph Tanner, a landowner. After studying medicine briefly, Thomas Tanner came to New Zealand in 1849 on the Larkins and worked as a cadet on a Wanganui sheep run. There he acquired a knowledge of Maori culture and a Maori version of his name...

Monday, 22 June 2009

John Buck History of Te Mata Winery

Te Mata Estate Winery originated as part of Te Mata Station, a large pastoral land holding established by English immigrant John Chambers in 1854. John's third son, Bernard had the original vision for wine production off the north facing hillside slopes bordeing Havelock North. Bernard was well travelled and had observed similar, successful wine growing conditions in France. When John formalised the division of his estate between his sons, Bernard retained the 1,960 hectare Te Mata Estate homestead block. A French vistor to Te Mata Homestead in 1886 kindled Bernards interest in wine and vineyards. The surrounding slopes and sunshine was ideal for wine grape sto grow. After visits to deveral French and Australian Wineries this motivate d Bernard even more. In 1892 cuttings of Pinot Noir were obtained from the Society of Mary's Mission Vineyards at Taradale and the first vines struck root at Te Mata Vineyard. He went onto plant grape vines on three parcels of hillside land above the homestead. (Today, Te Mata Estate still utilises those three original three vineyards to produce its most famous wines; Coleraine, Awatea and Elston.) The business flourished. Chambers converted a brick stable into his cellar and by March 1895 the first wine was flowing. 'My wine is turning out very well', he wrote in 1898. 'I made claret and chablis and have given a lot away. I won't begin selling for another year, until the wine is more matured.' By 1900, on 5,430 acres of freehold land, Bernard Chambers had 10,328 sheep and six acres of grapevines. Among the stream of eminent visitors to the vineyard were the premier, Richard Seddon, and the governor, Lord Ranfurly.
By 1906 Te Mata Vineyard had spread to 26 acres. Three years later, with Australian wine-maker J. O. Craike at the helm, production was the highest in the country, with an annual output of 12,000 gallons of claret, hock and Madeira from the 35 acres of Meunier, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Verdelho vines. Craike won gold medals for Te Mata overseas. In 1914 Sidney Anderson, the government vine and wine instructor, wrote that Te Mata Vineyard 'is now the leading one in the Dominion' and that the wines 'are commanding a large sale'.
However, not all was plain sailing. The prohibition movement peaked in the second decade of the twentieth century, forcing many wine-makers out of business. From 1909 onwards Chambers did not extend his vine plantings. Birds, mildew, frost (which in 1914 irretrievably damaged 16 acres of vines) and labour posed further problems. Chambers wrote in 1916, 'the vines are in a disgraceful state, unhoed under the rows, and generally neglected'. Meanwhile, some of his employees were 'in the cellar doing talking principally.
In October 1917 Bernard Chambers, now 58, sold his winery, wine stocks and part of the vineyard to Reginald Collins Limited; Chambers retained a minority shareholding. Five months later he sold most of Te Mata station, retaining 129 acres for himself. By 1923, when Reginald Collins sold its interests to TMV Wines, the vineyard had shrunk to 10 acres.
It had various owners until it was acquired by the current owners in 1978. Both vineyards and winery were run down, although still making wine. The opportunity to purchase brick cellars, dating from 1872, and two wonderful vineyard sites were irresistible to the Bucks and the Morris's, the two families behind the current company. A twenty year development programme was commenced, beginning with a restoration and re-equipping of the original building. More land was acquired by ownership, lease and management contract. All the original vineyards were replanted and viticulture underwent a further detailed review when Dr Richard Smart was engaged as a consultant in 1989. Peter Cowley joined as winemaker in 1984 and is now Technical Director in the company. Under his direction, all our winemaking techniques are monitored and kept in tune with our policy of producing small lots of high-quality wine from our own properties. In 1994 we appointed a viticulturist, Larry Morgan, a close associate of Richard Smart. Larry has put in place all the monitoring and review systems to further enhance the quality of grapes arriving at the crusher, and has also steadily advanced our move into sustainable viticulture. Te Mata Estate currently produces 35,000 cases of wine and is at full production. Sixty percent of this is red.

ARCHITECTUREAnother feature of Te Mata Estate is its architecture. Incorporating the original winery building, Wellington's famous Athfield Architects have created a modern complex using local materials and limewash colours. Apart from the restored original building the rest of the premises have been progressively built since 1987. Both the winery buildings and the Buck family home, Coleraine, across the road from the winery, were designed by Wellington architect lan Athfield. Athfield's brief was to create a New Zealand winery environment which did not copy the traditions of other winemaking countries. Local materials were to be used. Circular and square forms and the use of a range of limewash colours chosen.