Grasshopper Rock vineyard manager and viticulturalist Mike
Moffitt celebrates the vineyard's success. Photo by Sarah
Almost 10 years after the first vines were planted at
their Central Otago vineyard, owners and employees at
Grasshopper Rock are again tasting success.
Each vintage since the first in 2006 has won multiple awards
and gold medals and now the 2010 has won a top prize - the
Air New Zealand Champion of the Show trophy, considered by
many in the wine industry to be the top national award.
At the same awards dinner in Wellington at the weekend, the
wine also won the JF Hillebrand New Zealand Ltd Champion
Pinot Noir Trophy and a gold medal.
Grasshopper Rock managing director Phil Handford, of
Hamilton, said the 2010 vintage had won other awards, but
this was "icing on the cake".
What made the win "really pretty special" was the double
award because "that really doesn't happen often".
It was also the first supreme award win for an Alexandra
basin vineyard and only the third for Cental Otago.
Bannockburn vineyard Akarua's 2002 pinot noir won in 2003 and
in 2010 Gibbston vineyard Peregrine's 2009 vintage won the
supreme award, the champion pinot noir and champion open red
Chief judge MichaelBrajkovich said the Grasshopper Rock pinot
noir stood out for its depth, richness and complexity.
The owners had specifically chosen the Alexandra basin for
Mr Handford said he and his business partners knew that to
make "really elegant, silky and perfumed" pinot noir, the
right climate was needed.
They all had an interest in wine and in Central Otago but
they did "a lot of homework" before settling on the 8ha
Earnscleugh site, one of the southern-most pinot noir growing
regions in the world, Mr Handford said.
And their secret? - a full-time vineyard manager.
"A full-time manager makes the difference between average and
That manager is Mike Moffitt who, along with viticulturalist
brother Steve, have a combined total of about 40 years in the
Mr Moffitt said he was "stoked" with the win, which was the
culmination of much hard work and knowledge.
The wine is made by contract winemaker Pete Bartle, of
VinPro, in Cromwell.
It was the 26th year of the Air New Zealand wine awards,
which attracted more than 1300 entries over 17 classes.
Nineteen trophies, 97 gold medals, 183 silvers and 364 bronze
Other Central Otago wines to win at the weekend were.
-Champion Reisling and Pure Elite Gold: Aspiring Flats 2012
Champion Open Red Wine:Rockburn 2011 pinot noir.
Pure Elite Gold medals: Charcoal Gully Sallys Pinch 2011
pinot noir; Domain Road 2011 pinot noir; Gibbston Valley
School House 2011 pinot noir; Akarua 2012 Alchemy Ice; Mt
Maude East Block 2012 reisling; Rockburn Tigermoth 2011
reisling; Judge Rock 2010 pinot noir, Two Paddocks Last
Chance 2010 pinot noir.
Grasshopper Rock vineyard
• Vines planted in 2003, first vintage in 2006.
• About 3500 cases (42,000 bottles) produced a year.
• Five family shareholders: Angus and Ro Bradshaw, of
Dunedin; John Carmody and Sue Clarke, of Dunedin; Phil and
Max Handford, of Hamilton; Adrian and Ann Irving, of
Waimatua, and Jan and Stu Moir, of Culverden.
• Winemaker: Pete Bartle.
• Vineyard manager: Mike Moffitt.
• Viticulturist: Steve Moffitt.