Home of the famous Bordeaux-blend Larose, Stonyridge has a world-wide following. The winery calls Waiheke Island located a 40 minute ferry trip from Auckland its home.
Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland, is famous for producing great red wines because of its low summer rainfall and consistently high temperatures.
Stonyridge is located at the same relative latitude as the southern tip of Sicily. Stonyridge is located in a gently north-facing valley, 1 km from both Onetangi Beach to the north and Putiki Bay to the south. It is sheltered from the cold southwesterly winds by Stonyridge, a long ridge running from one coast to the other. A nearby rock quarry gives an indication of the soil type. The soil is a poor low-fertility Waitemata clay saturated with nodules of magnesium, manganese, and iron oxides. Magnesium is the central molecule of chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis, much loved by grape vines and so often deficient in NZ soils. The only fertilizers we add are natural-ground limestone and a homemade seaweed emulsion.
Stephen White, winemaker and owner produced the first vintage at Stonyridge Vineyard in 1985. Two years later, he made the great 1987 Larose that rocketed Stonyridge to national fame – a wine hailed as the greatest red wine ever made in New Zealand.
Winemaking at Stonyridge
The viticulture of Stonyridge is meticulous, with at least 5 full-time staff working in our 6-hectare vineyard throughout the year. The team selects the finest clones and graft them onto the best low-vigour rootstocks we can find. Apart from the five Bordeaux grapes, Stonyridge is experimenting with many other varieties.
Stonyridge believes that high quality grapes come from high quality soils. Insecticides have never been used at Stonyridge and herbicides have not been used since 1988 when Stonyridge purchased its first German tractor-mounted undervine weeder. The vine-disease-protection program is limited to non-systemic fungicides (copper and sulfur).
Innovation at Stonyridge
Stonyridge has been credited with many firsts:
- First to recognise the Waiheke climate as ideal for Bordeaux-style reds, and to come to Waiheke with the sole intention of making great red wines
- First NZ winegrower to recognise the value of northfacing land, and to plant roses at the end of each row and know why
- First NZ winemaker to make a wine from the Bordeaux Four (Cab.Sauv., Merlot, Cab.Franc, Malbec) and Bordeaux Five (adding Petit Verdot)
- First NZ winegrower to make a Rhone Ranger wine (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre)
- First NZ winemaker to exclusively use barriques, and one of the first to have an underground barrel cellar
- First to have a second label to protect the quality of the first
- First NZ winemaker to sell “en primeur”
- First to plant a commercial olive grove and a cork forest
Praise for Stonyridge
"I have seen many New World attempts to emulate the Bordeaux method of growing grapes, none more convincing than that of Stephen White at Stonyridge...A vertical tasting did no more than confirm my view that Stephen White is making New Zealand's finest Cabernet-based red wines." - James Halliday, Wine Atlas of Australia and New Zealand