The Boneline





Here’s our December news letter. If you would like to be signed up to our monthly news letters contact

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year from the bone line!

Best in Show

All of us here on The Boneline are blown away honoured and delighted to have our 2016 Cabernet Franc awarded two trophies at last week’s Romeo Wine Awards. The O-I New Zealand Trophy for Champion Emerging Red Wine was collected on our behalf by Alistair King of Crowe Horwath – and that was amazing – we were so happy! And also very pleased that Boneline brother Alistair was the one to represent us, to take credit for all his wisdom behind our business. Lindsay drove to Marlbrough in time for the Conference Awards Dinner, and to be there when the award for Bragato Champion Wine of the Show was announced –so lucky and so perfect. And totally overwhelming. Thank you to all at New Zealand Winegrowers and the judges for this honour. We are so aware of the many other wonderful wines entered.

Harvest 2017

Meadow like inter-rows gave way to dusty tracks, before myriads of mushrooms ruled the plains. Other than some great breakfasts the lead into the harvest evoked a sense of nervousness due to the strange and unpredictable season so far. With ex-tropical cyclone Debbie breathing down on us we decided the long-awaited patch of calm weather was not going to eventuate and the harvest began on the last day of March.

Riesling was the first variety picked — rigorous crop thinning early in the season provided us with engaging flavours and juicy acidity. Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay soon followed with sporadic picks of certain clones and areas according to maturity levels. We realised very early on that if we were going to up-hold our standards of super premium wine production we relied heavily on the pickers scrutinizing every bunch and discarding anything that didn’t meet the grade. Because of this picking was slow and crops were down significantly but the Chardonnays are pure and Sauvignons excitingly expressive.

When ex- tropical Cyclone Cook started rolling towards us, we hedged out bets by picking the more fragile French clones of Pinot Noir before the system, and hanging the more robust Swiss clones through it. Preliminary grading of the wines shows variance in makeup a bit like the variance in weather — the earlier picks being quite tutti-fruity while the later picks are dark with great savoury spice. The bones of a great Waimanu Pinot Noir are present in the cellar, it will be a matter of selecting the best parcels and combination thereof to produce a complete wine worthy of its place.

Something very strange happened after Cyclone Cook dissipated into the Pacific… the sun came out! Two whole weeks of sunshine got things moving in the Cabernet Franc, and it wasn’t until the morning frosts were starting to bite that we decided to pick it on the 10th May. The fruit is currently still soaking in vat following fermentation but early signs show bright red and black fruit characters and classic earthy franc complexity.

We believe that through sacrifice, hard work, a hefty picking bill and clever wine growing our 2017 wines will show great integrity and expression of a wild season at our site.


After another busy harvest, we were off to Auckland for a change of pace: Winetopia 2017 — A very lively wine event held in shed 10 on the waterfront showcasing over 350 wines from outstanding wineries from all over the country. We were there proud to represent Waipara with the debut of our gorgeous new banner— Thanks Inhouse and debuting some of our new release 2016 wines along with some of our older gems. The event ran over two days with three different sessions so it was great to see all of you Auckland folk and to catch up with some of our trade buddies like Anne and Richard from Caro’s who are carrying our wines at their two Auckland wine shops and taking care of the greater Auckland region for us. A great event filled with informative masterclasses, great live music, mouth-watering food pairings, and of course great wines. Thanks for coming out and saying hi to us we really enjoyed our weekend in Auckland so much so we have already booked our spot for Winetopia Auckland 2018. Good friends-Good Wine-Good Life- Hope to see you there!

Boneline Riesling in Cityscape

PINOT NOIR NZ 2017 — February 2017

An amazing feat of organisational ingenuity brought worldwide wine trade, media, authorities and enthusiasts together along the Wellington waterfront – with 115 NZ producers and their best Pinot Noirs, for a 3 day celebration of NZ Pinot Noir – “the greatest Pinot Noir event on the planet”.

While the overall focus was on Turangawaewae – our grounding/standing/growing place – the 3 days concentrated on themes of  Embrace / Explore / Evolve, giving plenty of scope for speakers and discussions. Such a treat to hear Dame Anne Salmond speak. Other favourites were writer Andrea Frost, Jo Burzynska’s presentation of Pinosthesia ( how sound shapes our impression of wine), Stephen Wong MW and Nick Mills. A mix of heartfelt and solid, science & art.

An international tasting of What Defines Greatness in a wine, was a deep dive into international perspectives – loved Kenichi Ohashi, and Mike Bennie’s wine selections, and  why they chose them.

Each afternoon was set aside for NZ Pinot Noir tasting- we showed our 2013 and 2014 Waimanu Pinot Noirs, which were really well received, we were quite humbled by various comments from both international and NZ folk who sure do know their stuff.

And a great opportunity to have 3 of our wines poured during various culinary events throughout the programme – these being a brilliant opportunity to meet brand new and old friends.

Forage North Canterbury – January 2017

The Boneline crew took part in the third annual Forage North Canterbury event this year – or “the longest day”. Also a hugely rewarding and diverse day.

The basic premise is 65 folk are split up into groups – each including a chef, a sommelier, and a local winery as guide and host. Each group has until 2pm to gather and plunder edible components from the geographical focus they have been nominated, then everyone converges with the bounty – which is then shared by the chefs, so that each chef is responsible for the creation of 1 course in what ended up being a 9 course seated meal. Meanwhile the somm takes care of the wine matching for their group’s chef’s creation. Sounds easy  – but it’s more like culinary sudoko.

After a 7am start with briefing and breakfast at Black Estate we set out to plunder the neighbourhood with Chef Teresa Pert from Pegasus Bay Winery, her Sous chef Liam, and Sommelier Josie Phillips – with a focus on Fields & Vineyards. Folk in our group were game to try anything, super enthused – a German journalist, local blogger, a writer for Metro and Paperboy. First up we milked sheep and made fresh ricotta at Ainsling Quoy Farm, then came back to our home vineyards & winery to gather plums, citrus, herbs, horopito, kawakawa, flax seeds, dried mushrooms, garnish flowers and decorative willows, while Liam shot a rabbit! A quick stop at The Food Farm down the road to pick tomatoes, berries, dig potatoes, and back to Pegasus Bay winery to meet the other groups and see the haul. It was impressive in seafood, seashore flora & fauna, pigeons, and also included a feral billy goat which was best kept down wind.

While the chefs went wild in the kitchen – and that is behind the scenes part I would have most liked to see, as the results were seamless and perfectly timed – there was a North Canterbury Regional Wine tasting for everybody else to work through. By 7pm, first course of  the seated dinner was coming out of the kitchen, last course at midnight – lots of speeches and fun through the evening.

Chef Teresa made an amazing dessert – Sheepy cheese and honeycomb ice cream, raspberries and stone fruits – perfect way to end the meal.

And our The Boneline Riverbone Sauvignon Blanc was matched with Medicinal tomato with rye and roadside weeds concocted by Chef Alex Davies – this was a really great match and dish – chewy rye in broth.

Photos by Dean MacKenzie

PINOT PALOOZA — Wellington, January 2017

Held as the consumer event to party alongside Pinot Noir NZ – Pinot Palooza was a real blast – such a great chance to get around and try the full spectrum of what we in NZ are producing. Found some really exciting new wines and a lot of forever favourites. Paul and Gemma Goodege poured for this event, having huge fun and success – Waimanu Pinot Noir ramped up 3rd in the Consumer’s Choice list. Palooza pulled such an enthusiastic crowd, a really fun pinot party – where a lot of people spat!


Where was Winter? Apart from being bleak and miserable with short dark days, it really didn’t eventuate. A light snow in September was pretty for a day, but true Sou’West fury never happened. Our weather station recorded the driest Winter in the country – for the second year in a row! So we spent the winter months waiting…

And it all happened in Spring – which has to be the wettest ever on record here. In a usual year, the short few weeks in Spring is gentle lush emerald time in the valley calendar. And then it turns barren & baked and dry as a chip, the bleached out landscape – for late November through until the next Winter.

Today’s just turned December – Summer – and it’s pouring hard again – the valley’s green and flowering. In the vineyard we are mowing to keep inter-rows and headlands growth under control, and putting huge amounts of handwork into shoot thinning, toe-nailing, and tucking shoots safe within wires. In-between rains, we have suffered severe Nor’West gales hard on humans & vines –hence the importance of keeping up with tucking to avoid wind damage to shoots. We love the drying effects of these winds for disease prevention though.

And of course our vines have had a bit of hair root thinning, from the gravels we grow in grinding and twisting against them – in these massive recent earthquakes, centred not far North of our area. We did notice a positive influence in our Sauvignon Blanc – we think from the effect on the vine roots – after the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Vines are looking healthy & happy – set up for a nice solid fruit set –and ready for the heat and dry, for a good strong flowering period over December.


Spring 2015 and just as we were finishing pruning on time and had pruned an extra 2 ha of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (that we had leased across the road), we were gifted an extra 5 ha of Pinot noir that the owners could not contend with. There was no time to cane prune the block as bud burst was upon us, so we ran a mechanical barrel pruner over it and cleaned up the spurs.

Bud burst happened at a normal time, with none of the early bud burst/ late frost, that plagued the vintage before, so we had a clean start to the season. While the frost fans were heard running on about 8 mornings in the lower valley floor, our property followed it’s usual pattern and we moved into spring without any damage.

Then the big drought situation that had been ongoing for 12 months, bit deeply and we had no rainfall of any substance for the rest of the year. Twice the river hit it’s low flow cut off point but small rainfalls in the foot hills boosted the flow enough to keep our irrigation going. December saw hot dry weather and good fruit set followed.

In the new year 2016 we received several good rain falls making January the wettest on record and set up prolific growth and humidity. Hideous amounts of work followed, trimming, spraying, leaf plucking, mowing and netting. Weekends of Saturdays and Sundays were worked in an effort to control and manage the work load and the extra 7 ha of vines. We also had to buy a new tractor and build, repair, borrow and modify all of the equipment to fit in the smaller row spacing in the lease block.

February saw a return to drought with the heavy rainfall being absorbed by the dry soil and the plant use, a good crop was filling out on the vines. The Pinot Noir had an absence of the usual heavy set that has to be removed and we powered on with the netting. To save on labour and time, we elected to just drape the netting over the vines and not clip it all up, and we just used vehicles to patrol the un-netted areas until we got there, and we did not bother to shoot at the birds to disturb them, this turned out to be effective bird control.

With beautiful ripening weather, the vines powered into ripeness and with accurate monitoring, we picked everything at it’s peak.

The new dream team in the winery, winemaker-Paul, assistant- Stefano and lab tech- Maura, under consultant Jeff, ensured fast, dedicated, same day processing. They really put in the hours! — and with a monster effort from our vineyard staff and an enjoyable picking crew we brought in one of our biggest and hopefully one of our best vintages. We even sold some of the surplus fruit we did not have tank space for in the winery.

A big crop from a big area, we pulled it off. I am not sure that we would want to work like this every year, no time for a swim at the beach, motor bike ride or fly fishing, but you have to make hay while the sun shines and the sun certainly shone on us this season.

A big thank you to all the staff because they made it possible. Enjoy the wine.

—Lindsay Hill.


Despite predictions of an early harvest we started processing fruit just after Easter around a week later than recent years. Sauvignon blanc closely followed by Chardonnay were the first varieties in and made up most of the first third of harvest. We were very fortunate with the weather to be able to strategically move the picking crew around various blocks following a progression of ripening caused by variances in clone, microclimate and soil type. This was particular useful with our Sauvignon blanc as it allowed us to capture herbaceous characters early and more tropical ones later.

The pace of harvest picked up when the Pinot Noir finally started showing some intensity of flavour and again we were lucky to pick and chose clones/blocks to harvest on certain days. Initial tastings show a real spread in style with some parcels being very elegant, silky and intense and others more dark, robust and brooding.

Our Riesling was next, picked with hardly any leaves and golden in colour we treated this fruit extremely gently to minimise the pickup of grippy skin tannins created from one hell of a Mediterranean style sun tan!

Finally the vintage was wrapped in mid may with the harvest of the Bordeaux varieties, winter was in the air as the nights were creeping closer. Being able to leisurely go about picking these grapes in fantastic condition was a testament to one hell of a season.

Having a fantastic harvest crew meant that time and resources were available to keep parcels in individual batches (50 in all) which really allowed us to narrow in on what was currently working for us and what we can do differently.

We are extremely excited about the wines we have in the cellar, the challenge will be in ensuring we retaining the natural balance and allowing them to speak for themselves.

Harvest 2016 – at midpoint

After a summer of drought, then post Christmas rain, drying out again, then more and lighter patches of rain – harvest started on 5th April, with various blocks of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Riesling, and at this point we still have more Pinot Noir for Waimanu, Chardonnay for Barebone, Riesling, and the big Iridium reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah & Merlot to fully ripen. The next 3 weeks are going to be busy.

We are really happy with the fruit that has come in already, great flavour and condition – fruit the Vineyard crew should feel very proud to hand over to the Winery folk, who are enthusiastically putting in the care and long hours this fruit deserves.

Vintage folk

We are so lucky to have Stefano Salvador and Maura Kinsella join us for vintage – Stefano’s winemaking skills were learnt in Italy, and Maura studied Biology in California. Stefano runs the cellar floor and keeps the fruit processing through, while Maura runs the lab, tracking fruit ripening and fermentation progress across the many varieties, clones, and resultant tanks and vats. Having such wonderful help makes Paul Goodege’s huge workload over vintage manageable just.  It’s brilliant having such a happy and enthused small group making the winery pump this season – thank you Paul G, Stefano & Maura.

Meet Leigh Love: The Boneline fossil mentor

Leigh Love is our local expert on fossils and formations of the Waipara River –Leigh has incredible knowledge & appreciation of what lies hidden within the stratas and gravels, which he shares with others readily.

During eleven years fossicking along the river, Leigh has made notable academic discoveries – including the Australornis Lovei named after Leigh, which is one of the oldest flying seabirds, of the Paleocene era, about 58 million years old. It is a pivotal species in early avian evolution. He’s helped further the study of Waimanu – the ancient giant penguin,  plesiosaur, mosasaur, megaladon, shark, and other prehistoric creatures. Leigh works closely with his colleagues at the Canterbury Museum, and  enjoys sharing the scientific study of many of his finds with international experts.

The Boneline Cabernet Franc label features Leigh’s first find – the Waiparaconus, a conical tubeworm, over 50 million years old. Other labels all show Leigh’s fossil finds.

Leigh and Ruth live in Waipara with their wonderful family, all homeschooled. Besides teaching, and fossils, Leigh is an accomplished photographer and a builder.

The Boneline is most grateful to Leigh, for allowing us to use his wonderful discoveries on our wine labels, and for all the help & support he has given this project. Leigh’s involvement allows us to speak of these wines in relation to the geology and gravels of ancient creatures which the vine roots now grow through.