Sam and Mandy Weaver emigrated to Marlborough, New Zealand in the 1990s. They planted vines on an undulating ridge line between the Waihopai and Omaka valleys in 1997. This was (and remains) the height of idiosyncracy in Marlborough, where most vines are planted on the fertile soils of the valley floor, allowing for full mechanisation. At Churton, most vineyard work, (and all harvesting) is done by hand, on low cut canes.
The estate comprises 50 hectares, with 22.5 of those under vine. Elsewhere on the site, sheep safely graze, bees buzz around their hives, and Red Devon cattle roam, providing a ready supply of manure to make biodynamic preparations, which are used on the vines to keep them healthy. Churton are also the first New Zealand wine producer to introduce draught horses to their vineyard, reducing diesel emissions and soil compaction.
And Sam and Mandy’s sons, Jack and Ben, have started making a new label of Churton wines, entitled ‘Natural State’, to bolster and diversify the wine range.