For several years I had a bottle of the Alpha Domus "Navigator" stored away and from time to time I'd glance at it and recognise it immediately because there was a Tiger Moth on the label.

But I never thought more of it, just that having a vintage bi-plane on wine labels was nicely out of left field.

But further down the track I learned that the location of the Ham family winery was the spark for the creation of an old aircraft on the labels which also have a nice art deco touch.

Anthonius and Leonarda Ham, who arrived in New Zealand from Holland in the '60s, and their boys Paul, Henri and Anthony, developed their winery ambitions and dreams across a 20ha spread of land on the Heretaunga Plains which they had purchased in 1989.

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It lies within the highly regarded Bridge Pa Triangle where the soils are premium in terms of growing varieties like merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and Syrah.

And, being off Maraekakaho Rd, it was in the flight path of several aircraft which use the Bridge Pa Airfield.

Among those aircraft - the De Havilland Tiger Moth.

So on the labels it went.

It also helped that Henri has a commercial pilot's licence and loves taking to the air.

As intriguing as the Tiger Moth on the label is, how the name Alpha Domus came about?

Domus is latin for house ... and the family put together the first letter of their names and came up with ALPHA.

The Ham family, and home.

The family has a passion for horticulture, having started out growing vegetable and flower seedlings at a nursery just outside Palmerston North.

It was the passion for growing, aligned with an equal passion for fine wine, which saw them shift to the Bay and set up what would become their winemaking lives.

They were sure the soils they came upon on that slice of the plains would be perfect for making great wines.

They were not wrong, and the string of subsequent awards and accolades through the years reflected that optimism.

Planting began in 1991 under the direction of an expert viticulturist, and the first Alpha Domus wines emerged in 1996.

Across their triangle spread they planted sauvignon blanc, chardonnay semillion, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon - later adding syrah and viognier varietals.

The Alpha Domus cellars now possess a fine selection across the top tier AD range, the premium Alpha Domus Range and (fittingly) the Pilot range.

The cellar door is unique in that it is actually part of the operational winery so visitors get to often see the winemaking being carried out - and at vintage time may get asked by winemaker Kate Galloway to lend a hand.

Or one can relax outside and look over the vines - and listen for an approaching Tiger Moth.

CHECK OUT

Alpha Domus, 1829 Maraekakaho Rd, Hastings.

Try: The AD Cumulus Blanc de Blanc, The Navigator and The Wingwalker viognier.

Cellar Door: Seven days - 10am to 5pm, from October 3 to first weekend in June. Closed for winter.

Contact :
wine@alphadomus.co.n