Hawke’s bay has long been considered one of New Zealands highest quality wine regions. Situated on the east of New Zealand’s North Island, it is a land of impressive diversity, not least in the soil type and typography which has been influenced as recently as 1860 by volcanic eruptions. Climate-wise, it enjoys the country’s highest sunshine hours and it has some very fertile, alluvial soil.
Winemaker Alwyn Corban knows, however, that it is not this fertile soil that is the most sought after for top quality wine. Instead, his vineyards for the Silks, Glazebrook, Stables, and Alwyn range sit on free-draining soils with less fertility that encourage water stress. This forces the vines to focus their energies on the grapes rather than the leaves which, in turn, leads to powerfully concentrated flavours.
Indeed the Corban’s were pioneers in this regard, deciding to plant on this less obviously appealing land during the 1980s. Some of the land sat on an old racecourse (hence the name ‘Stables’ for Alwyn’s most popular range) and he also planted vines on the nearby renowned Glazebrook estate which he latterly came to own.
While Alwyn has an impressive pedigree in wine studies (oenology) and experience, he says it was his famous father, Alex, whom he has to thank for laying the foundations of his great success.: “He didn’t reap the benefits (of New Zealand’s wine economy) but he did the groundwork for our generation to build on.”