Bell Hill Vineyard was established by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen and is situated at an old lime quarry in the Weka Pass, North Canterbury. This is a unique site with limestone derived soils and north facing hillside exposures. From 1997 through to 2009 we planted two hectares at high density with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bell Hill is a long-term project driven by our desire to achieve the absolute in wine definition from this site. Vintage variation in this part of the world means you never stop evaluating what you do and for what reasons. There is no end to striving for excellence and learning from what you do.
Our wines are estate grown at Bell Hill and include Bell Hill Pinot Noir – a selective and quite structural blend currently based around the Shelf and Quarry blocks and Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir – the sibling to Bell Hill, mostly from younger fruit giving it accessibility earlier on. With vine maturity and positive seasonal influences, all our blocks and clones have the potential to become part of the Bell Hill blend. Each block is harvested and fermented separately (the Quarry in two parts) allowing for the wines to evolve in barrel and show us their true character before blending. In the future, when all plantings are well into production, we plan to release limited single block wines to demonstrate their individual characters – the Shelf is one block showing this potential now.
For more information on Bell Hill and their wines visit their website here.
Spanning almost 200km of the South Islands eastern coast, Canterbury is one of New Zealand’s true gems. With a cool climate, the regions grapes experience long and steady ripening periods. Sunlight is a critical component of the ripening process and luckily for all, the region is typically bathed in it. Coupled with the advantageous levels of sunlight, there’s the infamous northwest wind that sweeps over the land, not only helping prevent a myriad of diseases by drying out the vine canopy, but also helps add to the total heat accumulation. While in warmer climates the natural acidity and aromatics are lost, Canterbury’s cool climates ensure bold and balanced flavours. Warm days and cool nights contribute result in rich flavour intensity. But every cloud has a silver lining, frost poses a serious threat to vintners especially in late spring or early autumn, to combat this, crop thinning is used to help accelerate the ripening process decreasing the period each fruit is at risk.
Canterbury’s main sub-region is Waipara Valley, (which translates to muddy water in Maori) situated to the north of the region is only a 40 minute journey from Christchurch city (considered the capital of the south island). Waipara has a slightly warmer climate than the rest of Canturbury, aiding in the frost issues the region experiences. Already boasting over 80 vineyards spread, covering more than 1,200 hectares of land Waipara is one of the fastest growing sub-regions, with the spot light slowly falling on Waipara, wines are getting more and more recognition and international acclaim. We can’t help but recommend the Riesling and Pinot Noir.
With three soil profiles, the regions unique terroir is comprised of “the valley floor, hill slopes and river terraces”. These profiles include gravelly deposits on the flats and terraces and limestone clays on the hillsides.