The Boneline




For us the 2018-2019 vintage was most heavily influenced by a spluttering start to summer. The success of flowering during early-mid December dictates the size of the bunch and its architecture (fruit-set). Cold temperatures and above average rainfall during flowering meant that fruit-set especially in the Pinot and Chardonnay was poor. Once we re-adjusted our mindset to our small and now very precious crop things started looking up, especially on New Year’s day when the heat finally showed up.

Average is the best descriptor for the remainder of the season. Now average may sound negative but in the context of grape growing in a warming and unpredictable climate, it’s actually a very positive thing. Average meant that we were treated with a long and dry autumn and this in-tern allowed us to run a small and quality focused picking crew for the entire 51-day span of harvest.

Our Hellblock Riesling got things going and the vineyard crew were particularly proud of growing the best-looking Riesling crop that many of them can remember!  The majority of our Mendoza clone of Chardonnay was picked before the end of March and although sparse provided the most concentrated and intense juice to treasure in barrel. The Pinot Noir made us hustle when it began to show signs of shrivel due to the high proportion of small berries within the bunches dehydrating. Luckily, we were able to pick all the Pinot over 5 days and retain the beautiful lush berry-fruit characters present.

In the winery, a desire to maintain the integrity of each individual fruit component until later blending down the track (aka geeking out), led to a disproportionately large number of batches and work compared to overall yield. Winery activity peaked around mid-April when the Sauvignon Blanc (very ripe and tropical) was harvested and the Pinot Noirs were well into fermentation.

As often a gap in harvesting occurred once the last of the white varieties were picked and we waited for our full-bodied reds to mature. This year the gap seemed more pronounced and drawn out than usual. If it wasn’t for some tired eyes and prolonged yawns you could almost trick yourself into thinking harvest was starting a-fresh on the 13th of May when the Cabernet Franc was effortlessly picked from the vine. But the habits learnt quickly resumed, and on the 15th the Cabernet Sauvignon so varietally pure and distinctive signalled the end of the harvest.

Our 2019 wines thus far are extremely concentrated and engaging with a real savoury element to many of them — Intriguing and compelling.

Feb News Letter

New Spring Wines

New Reds

2018 Harvest Report



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.