Felton Road

Felton Road
Felton Road is a winery on New Zealand’s southern Island that has well and truly reached cult status. This popularity is not the result of fad or trend, rather it is grounded in the pure style and consistent high-quality of its wines. The estate has always been at the cutting edge of vine-growing and has continually enhanced its reputation for quality with each passing year, since Nigel Greening first bought Felton Road and its Elms vineyard in 2000. and if ever there was a winery to confirm New Zealand’s potential to make refined terroir-inflected wines, then this is it.

The estate is situated in Bannockburn, Central Otago which is the most southerly wine growing region in the world. Small pockets of vineyard, shadowed by snow-capped mountains have a unique microclimate that enables the production of fine wine even here at the outer limits of sustainable wine production. The hot days, cool nights and long dry autumns play a vital role in this. Botrytis is almost unheard of here, though frost can be a risk. This wonderful climate allows for a winemaking philosophy that is ‘softly, softly’ and respectful to the environment. Since 2002 they have practiced 100% biodynamic viticulture. At no point in the viticulture or winemaking processes is the human hand allowed to make its mark too heavily. Felton Road work in tandem with nature using organic treatments, manure and plant cover crops to ensure natural bio-diversity in the vineyards. Low yields are achieved through hand pruning and all picking takes place by hand. Winemaking is the same for all wines, to allow their diverse plots to reveal their own individual characteristics. The reds are fermented with a quarter whole bunches. All fermentations are with indigenous yeasts, ageing is in French oak barrels, of which no more than a third are new, and bottling takes place without fining or filtration. The only thing that can differ is the length of elevage, depending on the year or cuvee. The result are thrillingly elegant, moreish wines that speak of a place – these are some of the most finely-poised and terroir-driven wines you will find from the New World.

2016 growing season

Cool spring conditions resulted in bud burst a little later than usual and slow early season growth. The weather finally stabilised in time for flowering in mid-December. Low rainfall assisted a rise in temperatures causing a rapid growth surge. Peak temperatures continued to be high throughout January in the build up to veraison. Bunches were overall of a good size although berry numbers were down in places. Temperatures were relatively moderate through February with warmish nights but more than double the monthly rainfall. Veraison was helped by the early warmth and achieved completion quickly. Vine and leaf condition held very well with no signs of stress or early shut down. Yields were normal with harvest starting on March 27. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were completed by April 11 after 8 consecutive days of fast picking with fine weather throughout.