Kina Cliffs is owned and operated by Julie and Alistair Ashcroft. While we both grew up on New Zealand farms, our careers took us to various cities, both in New Zealand and overseas. In 2000 we purchased a block of land near Nelson, with the view of one day returning to live a more rural lifestyle. The land was a 4.5 hectare coastal block at Kina with elevated, north facing views over Tasman Bay and across to the Western Ranges.
The Vineyard Development
Upon returning to NZ the potential to grow grapes on the land at Kina became evident. The aspect, soil and climate were suitable for grape growing, as proven by the two successful neighbouring vineyards. Julie completed a viticulture qualification then in 2004 over 8,500 vines were hand planted in both Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc varieties.
Families and friends spent many months helping to establish the vineyard and the combined skills of our ex-farmer parents were invaluable. Not to forget the use of seven hundred 25-year old posts from my parents’ old kiwifruit farm. A 40-year old original shed on the property was recycled by dragging it up the top of the site to accommodate the tractor. The environmental focus of re-use and recycle became an economic and practical necessity.
The following 2 years of growing and training young vines was a refreshing departure from office work and far surpassed any gym workout. The vines thrived in the Moutere clay gravel soil, on the frost free sunny site, with low rainfall and regular air flow from the sea breeze. The demands of twin boys arriving in 2005 resulted in supplying the first 2 harvests to local wineries. From 2009 Julie was able to return to working in the vineyard and the first wine was released – our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. A Pinot Gris block was established in 2009 and a cellar door opened in 2012.
We believe that ‘great wine begins in the vineyard’ and our aim is to sustainably grow the highest quality grapes possible. The focus is on optimum soil condition, strong vine health and hand tending the vines to achieve a low yield of full-flavoured grapes. Close alignment with experienced local winemakers ensures the grapes are picked at optimal ripeness to create wines with complexity of flavour and texture.