Terra Sancta Estate is located on Felton Road, Bannockburn, New Zealand. Team is one of our core Terra Sancta values, and we try and do things a little bit differently. As a team the full crew taste our wines as they progress through harvest, in tank, in barrel, through blending, and into the bottle. Each wine comes from specific parcels of land, and our focus in these tastings is trying to understand more and more the characteristics of each block of our vineyards. We like to involve everyone in everything. We could say we are boutique, small, family owned, yada yada yada (all of which we are), but that does not describe our essence. At our heart we are intent on creating wines, a brand and an organisation that endures.
Len, Sarah, Jen & Mark at 6am, 6 November, 2012 - celebrating the pouring of the concrete foundations of our new winery, with a glass of our Estate Rose, in front of Sarah's Block, from whence it comes.
Pictured on a Navy vessel on a trip to the Kermadec Islands, Mark is an Olympic swimmer, studied at Columbia University, worked at McKinsey & Company in NYC, and was CEO of NZX for quite a while. Introduced to and seduced by old world Pinot Noir, (amongst other things) in his time in New York, Mark sees Terra Sancta as a lifetime committment, a lifetime of learning, and lot of hard hard work!
Favorite Terra Sancta Wine: Shingle Beach Single Block Pinot Noir, 2012. This just smells and tastes as unique as the block itself.
Favorite wine memory:Sharing a bottle of Calera Reed Pinot Noir with my mother at Union Square Cafe, NYC, 1995
Favorite block in the vineyard: Shingle Beach. The heartbreak of the original visionaries, the dense burgundy-style planting, the massive beauty of the view straight up the Kawarau River, and the screeds of wild thyme with its scent, make this my favourite block.
Best secret of Bannockburn: With the first sight of spring, the entire Bannockburn landscape flowers into purple as the wild thyme flowers, and releases its deepest fragrance. Walking around at this time of year is like being in a perfumery.
Favorite time of year: Fall. Great weather for living.
Dream Holiday: Big waves, fresh fish, mango and sweet limes for breakfast, tennis court, dry heat, no cell coverage, a stack of big books, and Sarah. Place - irrelevant.
Last meal: Steak frite and a bottle of 2011 Terra Sancta Estate Pinot - our first Terra Sancta bottling.
Sarah studied at Auckland University, has worked as a lawyer, rugby tour manager (British Lions, 2005), strategy and communications specialist, and brand manager. With a deep love of wine, and the desire to build a timeless brand, the natural progression for her was to work in the wine industry. Which she is now doing, tirelessly, about 22 hours a day, stopping only occasionally to pay homage to the wine gods.
Favorite Terra Sancta Wine: Our Pinot Noir Rosé is beautiful and I love the fact that it looks as beautiful as it tastes. Our Rosé is symbolic and conducive to much that is great in life - classic setting - outside, poolside in the sun with my family on Christmas day eating prawns off the bar-b-que - happiness, fun and the glories of our Pinot Noir Rosé!
Favorite wine memory: The first time I had a truly memorable wine experience - in that moment wine went from being something you drank and socialised with, to something magical and mysterious - capable of inducing tears! The wine; 1997 ZInd-Humbrecht “Brand” Riesling, Alsace, France; the place Oriental Bay, Wellington, with Mark.
Favorite block in the vineyard: Other than my block - Sarah's Block (obviously), where much of our Terra Sancta Estate Rose comes from, I love Miro’s block - because that is generally where I will find our dog Miro, after having searched for her for hours - she has a habit of getting lost down there chasing rabbits. It will be a happy day when she actually catches one. I also love Miro's Block Riesling, so everything about that block is perfect.
Best secret of Bannockburn: Shingle Beach is on the river directly in front of our Terra vineyard. In the 19th century during the gold rush in Central Otago, 2 pounds of gold was panned directly from the river in one session. That’s where you’ll find me most evenings now - panning for gold. Not such a big secret is that Felton Road where Terra Sancta Estate is located is the best street in NZ - vineyards, orchards, tasting rooms, gold mining sluices, the rugged beauty including the Kawarau River -it’s a glorious spot.
Favorite time of year: Spring, the change of seasons, the scent of wild thyme, and the promise of the long hot summer ahead...
Dream Holiday: to actually have one... the wine business is all consuming!
Last meal: Fresh caught snapper, pan fried in butter with a wedge of lemon on the side - washed down with some more of that Rosé!
Jody Pagey, above, at work & at play, oversees the production of all Terra Sancta wines, from the fruit arriving at the winery through to its departure for bottling. There is not a barrel in the cellar he does not know by smell. Calling on his Diploma in Viticulture and Wine production, along with 10 years winemaking experience, Jody is a Pinot Noir specialist, but finds his heart equally torn by Chardonnay . Chasing summers across 5 countries Jody has pursued Pinot perfection through 13 harvests with 7 of those being here on our special patch of dirt.
Favorite Terra Sancta Wine: Slapjack Riesling, Chilled by melting glacial water, savored high in the alps after a gruelling hike to the summit. The intense alpine sun flickering off the pure sweet nectar as it dances in the glass. Crisp, perfectly balanced and well earned. My favorite mountain wine.
Favorite wine memory: My two vintages in Oregon. Good times, good wine, good beer, good food and great people.
Favorite block in the vineyard:
Shingle beach block - For three reasons
1. Vista - From this block you can see the old gold sluicings to the south, the mighty Kawarau River to the north and NZs finest vineyards in between.
2. These vines are high density planted. This means they are miniature vines. Standing only 1.2 m high I feel like a giant striding down the the rows. Ready to smash any small village I come across.
3. Last but not least the fruit. You will not find more perfect clusters anywhere. Look up Pinot Noir on Wikipedia and there will be a picture of grapes from the Shingle beach block. Just perfect and a treat to work with.
Best secret of Bannockburn: Near the Terra vineyard, on the banks of the Kawarau River, there still lies a massive gold deposit. Its 30 paces north of row 17. Then 25 more paces north - west. Head past the tree with the twisted branch and turn left at the old sluicing gun. Jump the fence past all the tailings and make a sharp left turn once you reach the biggest rabbit burrow in the area. Walk another 13 paces and there before you lies, well, paradise.
Favorite time of year: Winter = Skiing
Dream Holiday: Japan for the skiing
Originally from Hawkes Bay, Len studied viticulture and oenology at Lincoln University, and then in the Languedoc wine region of France, as well as Canada, before returning to New Zealand. Since his return, Len has spent the last several years based in Central Otago perfecting his skills on growing the fickle Pinot noir under some of the regions’ most notable pioneers at the region's largest viticulture firm. Len was thrilled to be given the opportunity to join Terra Sancta where he can draw on his expertise and focus his energy deeply on Terra Sancta’s vineyards which are among the regions oldest and are located upon some of the most enviable sites in Central Otago.
Len’s philosophy is to embrace the local climate, which affords minimal input in what is arguably one of the lowest disease pressure regions in cool climate viticulture. His ultimate goal in the vineyard is to achieve balance between vines and their environment, from which they will consistently produce exceptional fruit ready for crafting into world-class wines.
Favorite Terra Sancta Wine: Subject to change on a whim, but currently the Mysterious Diggings Pinot 2011. Beautiful winter wine and not so expensive that you can't go back for a second or third bottle when entertaining thirsty guests.
Favorite wine memory: A long summer afternoon in Provence with mates sharing some fantastic local Rose after scaling Mont Ventoux "en velo"
Favorite block in the vineyard: Diggings and Sancta vineyards...as they really are frost free....
Best secret of Bannockburn: The Bannockburn Pub. Cracker!
Favorite time of year: Winter, when you feel good about hibernting with movies, wine, food, and the odd single malt.
Dream Holiday: I'm still searching, but there will be great food, few people, no connection to the outside world and a much weaker currency than the NZD.