Location and Soil
Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland, is famous for producing great red wines because of its low summer rainfall and consistently high temperatures.
We are located at the same relative latitude as the southern tip of Sicily. Stonyridge is located in a gently north-facing valley, 1 km from both Onetangi Beach to the north and Putiki Bay to the south. It is sheltered from the cold southwesterly winds by Stonyridge, a long ridge running from one coast to the other. A nearby rock quarry gives an indication of the soil type. The soil is a poor low-fertility Waitemata clay saturated with nodules of magnesium, manganese, and iron oxides. Magnesium is the central molecule of chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis, much loved by grape vines and so often deficient in NZ soils. The only fertilizers we add are natural-ground limestone and a homemade seaweed emulsion.
Our viticulture is meticulous, with at least 5 full-time staff working in our 6-hectare vineyard throughout the year. We select the finest clones and graft them onto the best low-vigour rootstocks we can find. Apart from the five Bordeaux grapes, we are doing trials with many other varieties. Insecticides have never been used at Stonyridge and herbicides have not been used since 1988 when we purchased our first German tractor-mounted undervine weeder. Our vine-disease-protection program is limited to non-systemic fungicides (copper and sulfur).
We are organic growers, but because of an allergy to bureaucracy we refuse to be certified by an agency.
"I have seen many New World attempts to emulate the Bordeaux method of growing grapes, none more convincing than that of Stephen White at Stonyridge...A vertical tasting did no more than confirm my view that Stephen White is making New Zealand's finest Cabernet-based red wines." - James Halliday, Wine Atlas of Australia and New Zealand