Celebrating 30 years
We’ve been making wine since 1987. That’s a pretty long time, 30 years this year in fact.
2017 is shaping up to be a truly exciting year for us. We’re expanding our export market so more people around the world can enjoy our wine, we’re releasing a new brand and we’re celebrating our 30th birthday. Whenever an anniversary approaches you always take the opportunity to look back and reminisce about what you have achieved and how different things were “back then”.
Our story starts back in 1987 and like all good stories ours starts in a time of turmoil. For those who like a bit of history we’ll recap the important bits: The history of wine in New Zealand dates back to some of the first European settlers to arrive in this country. They recognised the potential of the climate and the soils and the similarities to those in the wine producing regions of their homelands.
The first vines were planted in New Zealand in Kerikeri in 1819 by an English missionary. In 1839 a group of Roman Catholic brothers started producing sacramental wine and in 1851 established Mission Estate winery, New Zealand’s oldest surviving winery. Fast forward 100 or so years to the 1960’s and the wine industry is starting to grow. Modern day New Zealanders were drinking on average 2 bottles of wine each a year. By 1983 this had skyrocketed to 17 bottles, vineyard area totalled 6,000 hectares and record harvest volumes were being recorded.
In 1986 it looked like all this was about to change. Bumper crop levels and a drop in demand saw many companies go out of business. The situation got so bad the government started paying growers to pull up their vines and nearly 25% of the country’s vines were removed.
In 1987 Jill and Dayne Sherwood planted 20 acres of vines in West Melton, Canterbury and established Sherwood Estate Wines. The couple were determined to make a career doing something they loved and gave up their jobs in a bank to start the business. Starting a wine company was not your standard career choice but the challenges and variety of the industry along with the fact it was “quite out there” appealed.
Today we have over 120 acres of vineyards in the beautiful Waipara Valley. The industry has continued to grow over the last 30 years. In 2017 396,000 tonnes of fruit was harvested, nearly 9 times the volume of the harvest in 1987. Last year Sherwood Estate Wines sold more wine than the whole country exported in 1986.