Welcome to de la terre winery
– Hawke’s Bay’s only earth brick winery. We are situated on the Napier-Taihape Road, a relaxing 20 minute drive from Taradale or Hastings through scenic pastureland.
We are a small family-run business, owned and operated by Tony and Kaye Prichard, and Gracie, the Winery Dog (our self-appointed Welcoming Committee). We produce small volumes of high quality wines with the emphasis on elegance, texture and balance. We have a quirky mix of grape varieties which allows us to create a full range of wine styles from Methode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs, simple and complex white wines, a selection of lesser known (in New Zealand) red grape varieties, through to a Sauternes-style Noble Viognier.
The name ‘de la terre’ literally meaning ‘of the earth’, is a reference to both the vineyard soils and the earth brick construction used for our the winery and cellar door.
Our first vintage at the winery was in 2009 and we opened the cellar door to the public early 2010. We expanded the winery in 2014 to enable us to process all our own fruit on site, and opened the small café adjacent to the winery at the end of that year.
We have hand-crafted this business from scratch, driven by our passion to create, to produce quality products, to provide a personal touch to whatever we do, and to be able to offer something a little different to the norm. Virtually all the building work was done by us, from constructing the winery and café, to making and installing the joinery in both buildings. The furniture is made from recycled native timber and both buildings feature leadlinght windows and light shades – both the furniture and leadlights were crafted in Tony’s rammed earth workshop adjacent to the winery.
Why Build in Earth?
It all began back in 1991 when some old family friends suggested that if we were ever contemplating building our own winery, we should consider an earth construction as a point of difference. At that time, we were not thinking about a winery but, as with anything, once something is drawn to your attention, you notice other references and examples that you may not have paid any attention to previously. Not long after this conversation, there was a full page article in the New Zealand Herald about earth building in our country. Our interest was piqued and from then it was just a matter of time….
Our first earth buildings were our house and workshop up behind the winery where we used rammed earth to construct the walls. Rammed earth is where an earth-cement mix is compacted within formwork to create solid wall panels. The walls are 35cm (14”) thick, the joinery is wood and the roof is timber shingles.
Earth provides thermal mass (which is different to good insulation properties) so the house is cool in Summer and relatively easy to heat in Winter. Tony took a very active part in building our house – helping to construct the walls, making all the joinery and leadlight windows, and attaching the thousands of shingles to the roof.
So when we finally decided to build our own winery, there was no question that Tony would not do as much of it himself as he possibly could, and the combination of earth and timber seemed to be the right one for us – earth for the thermal mass providing a constant environment perfect for winemaking, a relatively cheap building material and lots of timber that Tony could craft himself. Using earth bricks (made locally) instead of rammed earth meant Tony could construct the walls himself (you need 3 people to handle the formwork for rammed earth) as his winemaking consultancy allowed.
Tony started his winemaking career more than 30 years ago working for Montana Wines in Gisborne, producing large volumes of wines for the New Zealand and export markets. In 1990, Tony moved to Hawke’s Bay to be winemaker at Church Road Winery, also part of Montana Wines, but producing smaller volumes and more specialist wines.
At Church Road Winery, Tony worked with consultants from Domaine Cordier in Bordeaux learning French red-winemaking techniques, which he still uses today for the de la terre red wines. The Domaine Cordier relationship also allowed Tony to learn Sauternes-style winemaking, on which the de la terre Noble Viognier is based.
In 2005, Tony left Church Road Winery to set up his own business as a consultant winemaker. Tony consults for a number of wine companies throughout New Zealand, enabling his clients to produce quality, award-winning wines.
Having completed her degree in Food Technology, Kaye went on to complete a 3-month Certificate Course with the London School of Cordon Bleu (NZ) Ltd. After 2 years running the laboratory at Gisborne Milk Co-Op, Kaye moved to Wattie’s.
She worked for Heinz Wattie’s for nearly 30 years in both Gisborne and Hastings, where she held a variety of roles including developing new products, quality management, developing and implementing business processes for new products, and providing training and support for those processes to Heinz staff across New Zealand and Australia.
In 2013, Kaye left Heinz to work alongside Tony in the winery and open the café, finally realising her dream to create tasty, interesting food for visitors to the winery.
About Gracie (click)
She has a very gentle nature and loves attention. During the Summer of 2015/2016, she appointed herself as our official Welcoming Committee. She greets everyone at the carpark entrance and leads them down the path to the winery and café. And if she is not too busy, she will escort them back to the carpark at the end of their visit. She wins nearly everyone over with her friendly, fun-loving personality – even people who are not too fussed about dogs leave saying how lovely she is.
Despite weighing over 30kgs, she thinks she is a lap dog and rarely misses an opportunity to curl up on Tony’s knee at the end of the day for a snooze.
Wines and Winemaking Philosophy (click)
Our hand-crafted approach goes right through the winemaking process – from hand-picking all the fruit, through gentle handling at the winery using traditional winemaking techniques. Nothing is rushed and with the emphasis on minimal handling, every effort is made to retain the integrity and concentration of the fruit and our unique terroir. The wines are a fusion of high-tech winemaking knowledge with traditional hands-on winemaking methods in the cellar.
We bottle all our wines on site, every bottle is hand labelled and the Reserve wines are individually numbered. Continuing our hands-on theme, we designed our logo and wine labels. The logo is based on a symbol for Earth – a circle with a cross through it.