The Matawhero story begins in the 1960s when W. N. (Bill) Irwin purchased a block of land at Riverpoint Road in an time when the area was mainly used for growing maize or raising livestock. In 1969 the vineyard starts to supply contract grapes for the local wineries and Matawhero describe this time well, saying "as a bookseller with no horticultural background, people laughed at Bill all the time, but the clones propagated by Matawhero were taken up by most NZ vineyards to form the basis of the emerging industry."
In 1975 the first wines under the Matawhero label are produced and so begins the legacy. The Irwins remained at the helm until 1999 which was the last vintage in which they produced a large volume of wine. It 2000 Denis, Bills son as Bill had passed away in 1985, sells the bottom block of the Matawhero vineyard to Montana leaving approximately 38 acres and the winery.
The Irwins remained at the helm until 2008 (1999 was the last vintage in which they produced any wine). In 2000 Denis, Bills son as Bill had passed away in 1985, sells the bottom block of the Matawhero vineyard to Montana leaving approximately 38 acres and the winery. After a lot of hard work revitalising the site, the Searles produce their first vintage in 2009.
Since then, both the Church House series has been launched as well as the Irwin Chardonnay which pays tribute to those who established the vineyard.
Read Sip NZ wines interview with Kirsten Searle of Matawhero here.
"Growing grapes with natural rainfall creates our distinctive wines."
Matawhero practice Dry Farming with some of their varietals meaning the vines don't receive any extra irrigation. This is because the soils are rich enough thanks to the good spring rainfall, unique soil types, silken clay and fine silt.
This enables a richer flavour from the grape as the vines are deeply entrenched in the soil and from this the true terroir of their land emerges naturally.
And it's not only good for the grapes. Seeing as water is a precious resource it's good for the environement and means Matawhero are not taking anything more than they need.