Grape Growing Practises

“Good wines are made in the vineyard”

How many times have we heard that! But it is true. No matter how good the winemaker is they cannot make good wine out of poor or average grapes, they can only extract the best from the fruit that is at their disposal and the quality of the fruit is determined by environment and management of the vineyard in which it is grown.

We put a great deal of effort into the management of our vineyards with the aim to produce the best possible fruit that we can for the wine styles that we are making.

From the beginning of the season - mid winter -  when we prune the vines, through to the flowering and management of the canopies in the growing part of the season, to the ripening of the bunches after veraison, we monitor the vines for disease and insects, count the flowers and bunches, calculate the yield to ensure that we are not over cropped and test the ripening berries for sugar and acid levels to be sure that when the harvest begins the winemaker will be presented with the opportunity to produce a wine that is greater than the sum of all the parts that go up to making the whole.

All efforts are made in the vineyard to ensure that each individual parcel meets the requirements of the winemakers with regard to the individual styles that we are making.

Grape Growing Practices

The Vineyards

Stirling VineyardStirling Vineyard

The Stirling vineyard comprises 16.5 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and is located near Meeanee, a small settlement near the coast between Napier and Hastings. Planting of the Stirling vineyard began in spring of 1994 and was completed the following year. The young vines were nurtured and trained and the first vintage was eagerly anticipated in 1996.

Stirling VineyardSauvignon Blanc is a grape variety that thrives in this vineyard and produces fruit that expresses a wide range of tropical flavours including passionfruit and pineapple. Many styles of Sauvignon Blanc have been made over the years with grapes from this block ranging from simple fruit driven styles through to wines with more complexity and contribution from individual winemakers.

Vines from this block have continued to produce annual vintages between 10 and 12 tonnes per hectare for the past decade. We named this vineyard the Stirling Vineyard after the town in Scotland where our forefathers originated.

Sally's Field Vineyard

Sally's Field VineyardThe Sally’s Field vineyard is a 22 ha block which we purchased in 2000 and is 25 kms to the west and further inland from our Stirling and Elgin coastal vineyards. Sally's Field is in an area with soils and a microclimate that is regarded among the best in New Zealand for growing of red Bordeaux and Rhone varieties as well as Chardonnay.

The soils are comprised of sandy loams on gravel and are free draining, requiring irrigation during the dry, hot summer months. Temperatures in this inland site during the ripening part of the season are also up to 10 C higher than other areas and are therefore more conducive to ripening of varieties that originate in warmer climates.

Sally's Field VineyardOur Sally’s Field vineyard is presently planted with: 4 ha of Chardonnay, 5ha Merlot, 3 ha Syrah and 1 ha Malbec. We have plans to further expand our plantings on this site to include Pinot Gris which is a variety that we see to have a great deal of potential for in this area.

Although warmer in the summer this site is cooler in the winter than our other vineyards and we are therefore required to protect the vines from frosts that can sometimes wreck havoc among vineyards in this area. Occasional frosts during periods when frosts are most unwelcome, means all vineyards in the area employ anti-frost protection of some type. Sally's Field vineyard utilises water, dispensed as a fine mist during times of frosts, which in turn freezes over exposed buds and protects them from the damage caused by severe frosting.

Bio-Diversity in Vineyards


Maimai Creek Vineyards are a family owned and operated business with a total area of planted vines encompassing 50h. Over the last 5 years we have introduced management strategies to maximise the benefits of the beneficial species that co exist in and around our vineyards including using wild Hawks for bird control and encouraging various insect species to help manage problem insects such as mealy bug and leaf roller caterpillars. We are now seeing the benefits of having these biological helpers in our vineyards with the vines producing fruit of a higher than normal quality.

Planting Areas to Help Attract and Sustain Beneficial Species

We have planted specific areas in and around our vineyards to create a natural border of food and shelter to these various species that we want to preserve and nurture. In the south island there is a push for more bio diversity in vineyards, with the ‘Greening of Waipara’ a flag ship project headed by professor Steve Wratten and his team of dedicated scientist. Steve made contact with us as he was interested in our Hawk programme we have implemented for a means of bird control. We visited Steve at Lincoln University to share ideas on ways to improve bio diversity in vineyards. We left with a greater knowledge of what is needed to improve habitat for benificials in our own vineyards.

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Harrier Hawk for Bird Control Research Program

Maimai Creek developed a sustainable program that uses wild Harrier Hawks for bird control.

Using birds of prey to protect ripe grapes from aerial attack is favourable to the environment and reduces the impact on surrounding neighbours.

As with most vineyards we have an ongoing bird problem in the weeks leading up to harvest. We have a local population of Harrier Hawks that frequent our vineyard on a regular basis.

It’s these Harrier Hawks which we utilised as a biological tool for managing the effects of bird damage to our vineyard.

Watch our Hawk clip.......


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