Gimblett Gravels


I’m down here in New Zealand for this big international Pinot Noir conference, but as an added bonus for coming all the way across the earth, the good kiwi people decided to throw a one-day conference on cool-climate Syrah. The conference was set in an upcoming wine region here in NZ called the Gimblett Gravels ( A unique area of land inside the larger appellation of Hawke’s Bay on NZ’s North Island, Gimblett Gravels has some of the stoniest soil you’ll ever see anywhere.

This makes the ground incredibly well draining and of course low in nutrients, so the vines have to really work hard to get their fruit ripe. In the process, they make exceptional grapes. Look for Cabernets, Merlots, Chardonnays and Syrahs from the likes of Craggy Range, Babich, Trinty Hill, Te Awa, Mills Reef and Matariki to name just a few of the wineries producing concentrated, minerally wines from these soils.

The conference was, by the way, a terrific success. The Syrah from New Zealand is nothing short of spectacular and hopefully you’ll be seeing more of it in the next few years. Before a big tasting and a dinner, we were welcomed by a troupe performing traditional Maori dances. Afterwards, they grabbed a few guests in to do the great Maori war dance, the Haka. The guy in the funny shirt on the right is Michael Havens,  of Napa’s Havens winery. He gave an excellent speech at the conference, but, I must say, lacked grace while doing traditional Maori dances.

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