Winemakers create perfect blend in new company

Former Highfield Estate staffers, from left, Al Soper and Peter Coldwell have joined forces with TerraVin winemaker ...
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Former Highfield Estate staffers, from left, Al Soper and Peter Coldwell have joined forces with TerraVin winemaker Gordon Ritchie, right.

Well-known premium Marlborough winegrowers Highfield Estate and TerraVin will retain individual brand styles after three staff members struck a deal to work together.

The new company - Highfield TerraVin - will be based in Highfield Estate's Tuscan-style Brookby Rd headquarters, 12 kilometres west of Blenheim.

The company will be driven by former Highfield Estate general manager Peter Coldwell and winemaker Alistair Soper, together with TerraVin winemaker Gordon Ritchie.

 The trio have extensive experience in the wine industry, both in Marlborough and Hawkes Bay.

Highfield and TerraVin have been producers of high quality premium wine - as much as 95 per cent exported to 20 international markets.

Highfield has two small vineyards and a winery, while TerraVin has a larger 30-hectare hillside vineyard - the combined harvest area will be 37ha, producing a total of 600 tonnes a year.

Coldwell said the emphasis would still be on exporting the product.

"We will aim for growth but  we are not after astronomical growth in the short term," he said.

Highfield, which produced its first vintage in 1989, specialised in sauvignon blanc, and French-styled methode traditionelle, Elstree Cuvee Brut.

TerraVin had focused on pinot noir and sauvignon blanc since being established in 1998.

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The focus on the individual wineries' preferred varieties and markets would not change, Coldwell said.

Soper and Ritchie would continue to make wine under the Highfield and TerraVin labels, respectively, while working jointly on other projects.

The merger has as much to do with producing good wine as it is for the trio to remain living in the region with their families, Coldwell said.

"We have over 50 years of combined experience working in the wine industry here, and we choose to be here because we really believe in Marlborough.

"We are three like-minded blokes, we all love Marlborough, we love the wines from this part of the world and we want to be part of the Marlborough wine industry going forward."

Both brands - TerraVin and Highfield - would continue to be sold at the Highfield cellar door.

There are also plans to re-open the Highfield restaurant for next summer.

Coldwell, Soper and Ritchie become shareholders in the new company Highfield TerraVin.

 - The Marlborough Express

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