The release of two long-awaited new premier wines from Havelock North's Craggy Range was a perfect time to celebrate wine and food, with winery owner Terry Peabody flying in some top kitchen support from Australia.

The event, at the winery's Terroir Restaurant last Saturday night, showcased leading Australian chef Grant Murray's skills as well as the skills of chief winemaker Matt Stafford and his team.

For Mr Murray, who is executive chef at One&Only resort on Hayman Island, it was a unique experience as he said he was more used to working in what is believed to be the largest restaurant kitchen in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, he easily adapted to the smaller confines of Craggy Range's kitchen and later paid big tributes to the winery's kitchen crew.


Mr Peabody, who founded Craggy Range in 2003, spends his time between Havelock North and a home on Hayman Island and is well-versed in Mr Murray's dishes.

"So the connection was done," he said.

Also making the trip across the Tasman for the inaugural launch of Craggy Range Pinot Gris and a limited summer release Rose was fellow chef Alex Liddle and head sommelier from One&Only, Elena Borisyuk.

They were stunned by the beauty of both Craggy Range and the vineyard's spectacular surroundings.

"What a beautiful place this is," Mr Murray said as he ran the 82 guests through the four wine-accompanied dishes he and his team had prepared.

"I'll talk to you more later," he said before adding with a smile, "because now I've got to go and get some work done."

At the end of the evening he declared "we should make this an annual thing", a popular sentiment which received plenty of applause.

Winemaker Matt Stafford also got the thumbs-up for the first varieties of the winery's 2014 vintage - a limited edition pinot gris produced at Craggy Range using grapes from Martinborough's Te Muna vineyard and a rose from its Gimblett Gravels vineyard.

Mr Stafford said the 2013 rose had been a "very small release" and they wanted to create a rose Craggy Range could "take to the world".

With a distinctive pale peach colour, the 2014 rose was what he described as a more traditional style of the variety, inspired by the sunshine of the south of France and with plenty of texture.

The 2014 pinot gris was the result of a three-year work in progress, Mr Stafford said, adding that like anything the winery approached it had to be absolutely right before it got the nod.

There were three years of trial fermentations and the classic 2014 season sparked the final, already acclaimed, result.

The grapes had been hand picked and the fruit pressed for up to 10 hours to produce what he called "the purest juice".

What had been created had certainly hit the right mark, in that Mr Peabody happily accepted a top-up.

"I am not a big fan of pinot gris but this is the best I have ever tasted," he said - which resulted in a very satisfied smile from Mr Stafford.

While the 2014 pinot gris was available now, the rose would be released on October 31.