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Stuart & Patricia Anderson — Flaxmore Vineyards: Wine Nelson

Stuart & Patricia Anderson acquired 28 hectares of prime land in the Moutere’s Flaxmore Valley in 2006 and have pioneered fine wine with an absolute focus on vineyard quality ever since. From the vine to the bottle their wines are fully accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. Over the last 10 years they’ve created an irrigation pond of just under 1 ha, which is landscaped to attract a range of native & exotic birdlife, and have planted 5,000 trees and shrubs – a process that’s ongoing. In 2019, they opened a cellar door and their latest innovation is an adjoining art gallery, showcasing fabulous local, national and international art.

HOW DID FLAXMORE VINEYARDS DEVELOP INTO THE SUCCESS IT IS NOW?
I’m a Kiwi and my wife P (Patricia) is a Brit. I left New Zealand in the mid-1980s and met P in London. I became interested in wine when travelling overseas, spurred on by discovering the Margaret River region in Western Australia and by exploring the international wine scene in London. We lived and worked overseas but came back to New Zealand for visits and bought the land on Flaxmore Road, Upper Moutere in 2006.

The property had been planted in apples in 1910 and was once an award-winning orchard, becoming a serious export operation in the 50s and 60s. By the early 2000’s these low-yield unirrigated hill orchards were becoming uneconomic despite the amazing fruit quality. The property has a long history of land care but still needed much work for the transition to the vineyard. We employed a manager while we were away and returned to NZ permanently in 2017.

We planted the vines in 2008 (Pinot Noir for red & rosé, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris). We had excellent advice on varieties, clones and rootstocks for our land, and for the micro-climate within Flaxmore Valley. We bought the best quality vines available in NZ and allowed the vineyard to fully develop before taking our first crop in 2011.

We initially grew for Neudorf winery (and still do), which meant we had great feedback on our viticultural journey! We also launched our own label in 2018. The Flaxmore label is mainly sold directly to customers online or from the cellar door, but we also have local restaurant and retail customers.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WINEMAKING STYLE AND PHILOSOPHY?
We are primarily aiming for wines that are “made in the vineyard” – from a fantastic site with well-matched varieties & clones.

The wines are a unique expression of our site and reflect minimal intervention in the winery, so delivering a transparent window into the vineyard. The wines are characteristically elegant and balanced with a clean long finish.

TELL US ABOUT THE KEY PEOPLE BEHIND FLAXMORE VINEYARDS
P looks after our marketing, web platform & social media – which is so important for a small label such as Flaxmore with a focus on direct-to-customer sales.

I oversee operations in the vineyard, trade marketing and cellar door work. Beyond the vineyard area, we focus on corners of the property with diversified tree/shrub planting annually and developing several wetlands.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING TOWARDS ACHIEVING IN THE SHORT-LONG TERM FOR FLAXMORE VINEYARDS?
We’re always tweaking and refining, so looking at any changes in the vineyard where we can fine-tune viticultural techniques and varieties across the site, working out what is doing best in each location.

We’re not chasing growth, just looking for the optimum production for a small boutique vineyard. We’re further developing our direct-to-market customers and will start UK export in the next year.

Our cellar door also has an adjoining art gallery for added interest and our vineyard walk is very popular.

Source: Wine Nelson

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