Ash Ridge opens new winery

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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Winemaker Lauren Swift tests a sample with Chris Wilcock at the new Ash Ridge Bridge Pa Triangle winery. Photo/Warren Buckland
Winemaker Lauren Swift tests a sample with Chris Wilcock at the new Ash Ridge Bridge Pa Triangle winery. Photo/Warren Buckland

It is not just the big players investing in the Hawke's Bay wine industry. On Sunday, Ash Ridge Wines opened its new winery.

Ash Ridge is owned by Chris and Sonya Wilcock, who have developed the winery during the past nine years.

Mr Wilcock spent 15 years in foreign exchange trading before putting his money where his heart was and buying the land and training as a winemaker.

"We've done pretty well over the last few years - we won Hawke's Bay Winery of the year in 2012 and we've grown to the point where we felt the time was right for us to build our own winery on site," he said.

Ash Ridge has worked with several other wineries to make their wine, but Mr Wilcock was keen to consolidate the process.

"We wanted to bring everything together under our own winemaking team so that everything is on site. We are trying to make a true expression of the vineyard - a true Hawke's Bay wine from the Bridge Pa Triangle."

Most Ash Ridge wine was sold in New Zealand.

"We have a big focus on our cellar door and we do lot of work with restaurants."

Mr Wilcock said the winery was a major investment "for a relatively young business" but he was confident about the Hawke's Bay wine industry's prospects.

Villa Maria recently announced plans for a multi-million-dollar winery close to Ash Ridge on its Gimblett Gravels Te Awa Winery.

Delegat's also has plans for a multi-million-dollar winery, and Hawke's Bay's largest winery, the former Pernod Ricard 10,000 tonne Napier winery, is now home to contract winemaker Rod McDonald's The Hawke's Bay Wine Company.

Ash Ridge's winery was officially opened by Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We are coming out of the recessionary time in the wine industry and, because of the breadth of our varieties, we are a good position to make the best of it," Mr Yule said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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