Growing a Dream

Nick Nobilo is taking Gewurztraminer to a new level in New Zealand.

When Nick Nobilo retired from Nobilo Wines after selling the family company to BRL Hardy in 2000, he felt he had unfinished business to pursue. He wanted to take Gewurztraminer to a new level in New Zealand and produce a wine comparable to the best Grand Cru from Alsace. So he didn't buy a yacht to sail off into the wild blue yonder. He developed a vineyard and winery instead.

Nick's obsession with Gewurztraminer started in 1972 when he made a heady wine from vines he planted himself in the family vineyard, just north of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. Yields were uneconomic so when Nobilo Wines expanded to Gisborne to produce Muller Thurgau, Nick persuaded a grower in the inland Ormond sub-region to plant his beloved grape. By the mid-1980's, with propagation of the best performing vines, Nobilo Gewurztraminer was winning trophies. But consumers didn't understand it.

Nick was confident the Ormond terroir was perfect for producing world-class Gewurztraminer. With Nobilo Wines sold, he could prove it. He went back to his roots. He went back to growing and making wine.

Vinoptima is in close proximity to the original Nobilo vineyard in Ormond and is planted with selected clones from Nobilo and newly imported clones from Alsace.

Nick believes the Gewurztraminer-focused Vinoptima winery is unique. With experience and ingenuity he has designed an efficient layout to produce a hand-crafted wine with minimal assistance. The tanks are arranged like a silver-coated horseshoe. Fermentation and maturation is split between the tanks and German oak ovals (foudres), as used in Alsace. Occasionally, extra staff members are employed for pruning and hand-harvesting. The wine is bottled in the winery and aged for a further two years before release.

2003 was the first vintage and the 2004 wines, a 'Vendage Tardives' and a 'Selection de Grains Noble' will be released later this year.


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