From vine to bottle - in Henderson
Babich Wines go from vine to bottle, right out of their Henderson Valley site.
The west Auckland property, which stretches across 10 hectares is home to the company's headquarters, head office, cellar door, bottling plant and distribution centre, and has been since 1919.
Babich also have four properties totalling 60 hectares in Hawke's Bay and six in Marlborough which supply 250 hectares of grapes.
The Western Leader has spent the last month following the wine making process from harvest to glass in Henderson.
Senior winemaker Adam Hazeldine has been with Babich since starting his career as a cellar hand in 1996.
Hazeldine said that this year, Babich have bottled "about 5.6 million" bottles of wine so far, including grapes that come from the Marlborough wineries.
They have an annual output of 500,000 cases, which is the equivalent of 6 million bottles of wine. Roughly 85 per cent of the product is exported overseas.
The third generation winemakers last year celebrated 100 years of operation, and managing director Joe Babich was one of two men to be inducted into the West Auckland Business Hall of Fame.
Babich said it is the uniqueness of the Henderson site that makes it financially viable, despite the small scale vineyard being kept for "mainly image and sentimental reasons".
"The Henderson winery is financially viable as it not only processes all our Hawke's Bay product, but also bottles and dispatches our total bottled production," he said.
"As a result, the winery is busy all the year round and operates efficiently."
The 77-year-old said like most industries, technology is constantly changing the way Babich makes its award-winning product.
"We changed dramatically with the shift from fortified wines produced from hybrid grapes to unfortified wines produced from vinifera varieties."
"The use of temperature controlled ferments, stainless steel wine vessels, yeast cultures and scientific analysis are examples of developments that were rarely used in the first half of the 20th century," Babich said.