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The Winemaking

Hand crafted

Attention to detail, hard work and an absolute commitment to quality are the hallmarks of both our viticulture and winemaking.

Established in 2003, Elephant Hill is located within a stone’s throw of the Pacific Ocean on the idyllic Te Awanga coast of Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island.

The winemaking at Elephant Hill is driven by tradition while not losing sight of what innovation can bring to the blend. Our aim is to make wines that are balanced and elegant and a true expression of the vineyards they come from.

The technology associated with winemaking is always improving, as is the knowledge and understanding of the science of wine. Important as these factors are, to preserve the varietal integrity of the fruit from our vineyard is key. In the winery we ferment our grapes in many small, separate batches. This allows for the nuances and character of each separate fermentation to come to the fore and be considered when blending for our Estate, Reserve or Icon wines.

The perfect vintage is warm and dry throughout autumn; the climate so benign of threats that we can pick the fruit when it is truly flavour-ripe for the style of wine desired. The perfect vintage, of course, does not exist. In crafting wine one learns to deal with the weather nature hands you, and gradually to enjoy the variation from year to year. Great wine should reflect the site and the climate of where it is grown. One of the most rewarding challenges in making wine is to craft a wine that best represents the vintage in which it was grown, that plays to the strengths of the harvest and mitigates the challenges that were faced.

The Vineyards

With high sunshine hours and low rainfall Hawke's Bay is   perfectly suited to Viticulture.

Location

Hawke's Bay is located on the eastern side of the North Island and is one of New Zealand's warmest regions. With high sunshine hours and low rain fall (780 mm year) Hawke’s Bay is perfectly suited to growing wine grapes and crafting premium wine. Our belief is that great wines are hand-made wines where meticulous attention to detail starts in the vineyard. This is why we hand-pick our grapes in order to be very selective in using the best possible fruit to make our wines.

Vineyards

Elephant Hill has three vineyards in the renowned sub-regions of Hawke’s Bay. The coastal Te Awanga Vineyard, the inland Gimblett Vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers District and The Triangle Vineyard in the Bridge Pa Triangle region.

Soil and Climate

Our vineyards have a variety of soil types and micro climates which give us the ability to capture the different elements and nuances of each particular site to make wines of complexity and character. Each grape variety has been carefully matched to the varying soil types, ranging from shingle to clay to very old, stony river beds producing a range of flavour profiles in the wines. This gives us extensive blending options or the opportunity to make terroir based, site specific, single vineyard wines.

Sustainability

We tread as lightly as possible on the earth

At Elephant Hill we have a strong drive and belief in sustainability and the preservation of the land.

We’re passionate about caring for the land that has been entrusted to our care and we tread as lightly as possible on the earth. Water is one of our most precious resources and we have installed our own state-of-the-art biological water treatment system that allows us to recycle winery waste water back into valuable clean water. Wildflowers are planted in the vineyards and creek banks to contribute to the beauty of the property and attract beneficial insects for biodiversity. All our vineyards are 100% accredited by Sustainable Winegrowers of New Zealand (SWNZ).

Architecture

Inspired

Inspired by the Pacific Ocean, Cape Kidnappers and the natural beauty of the Te Awanga coast, the foundation of the design of Elephant Hill is built on an ethos of respect for the environment and landscape.

Our desire has always been to build a destination and create facilities of the highest world class technical and artistic calibre. These two characteristics are the essence of growing grapes and crafting wine.
Design

The driving principles of our architecture is to evoke a sense of relationship through a common link of shape, colour and detail to unify the “family” of estate buildings and create harmony through shape, colour and details. The function of the estate buildings is understood by the many processes of the cultivation and harvesting of grapes and of wine making. With respect to place, the priorities were to ensure the buildings fit into their setting and acknowledged the surrounding natural elements. The pre-aged copper wall cladding is significant in its ability to withstand the climatic conditions and is visually compatible with the colour of the ocean and the grape vines.

Design Philosophy

To simulate the ocean colours our buildings are clad in a natural green pre-patinated (aged) copper, not previously used in New Zealand, the material in this form is incorporated in some notable new European works and also used in historic restorative projects. Over time the effects on the copper exposed to the salt laden air will result in a continuing natural aged effect. The matt finish renders the material non reflective and negates any glare. Our buildings uncluttered rectangular shapes with a horizontal emphasis evoke a complementary sense of space and freedom, and blend into their background.

Our People

Proprietors Reydan and Roger Weiss first fell in love with the beauty of Te Awanga when visiting from Germany in 2001. Together they envisaged owning a state-of-the-art winery, merging the traditional values of wine making with an innovative approach and contemporary style to produce exceptional wines to savour and enjoy.

Andreas Weiss

Andreas is the second generation of the Weiss family to be directly involved at Elephant Hill. After studying economics and engineering at the Technical University of Berlin a successful 20 year career in the banking industry followed with assignments in Germany, England and Brazil. In 2013 Andreas founded his own consulting firm, analysing and developing financial infrastructure set ups for municipalities in his home country of Germany. A change in direction then took place in September 2015 when Andreas was offered the fantastic opportunity to manage Elephant Hill which he gladly accepted. Andreas and wife Karina with their 5 children will set up home in Hawke's Bay. As CEO of Elephant Hill he has a passion and a commitment to quality while successfully running the business for future generations.

Steve Skinner, Winemaker

Although graduating with an economics degree followed by a promising career in Finance, Steve soon realised wine was his true calling. Moving to Hawke’s Bay, Steve studied wine science and worked harvests in Hawke’s Bay, France, California and Canada before securing his dream job at Elephant Hill.

Ashley Jones, Head Chef

Ash began his culinary career at the acclaimed ‘Jaspers’ and sister restaurant ‘Essence’ in Sydney. These formative years gave Ash most of his culinary influence, inspiration and style. In 2006 the opportunity to work at Elephant Hill presented itself and Ash started as Sous Chef and within 18 months his exceptional skills were recognised with his appointment as Head Chef. Since being in Hawke’s Bay Ash has cemented his position and reputation as an extremely talented and creative Chef. In 2014 the Elephant Hill restaurant was awarded the prestigious Cuisine Good Food Guide Best Winery Restaurant in New Zealand, a great achievement.

Vince Labat, Global Head of Sales

After graduating with a Masters in Wine Business from The University of Adelaide in 2004 Vince worked in Australia, the UK and New Zealand gaining wide experience in wine marketing, sales and market development. The opportunity to work with an innovative and premium winery & vineyard and to live in the fantastic Hawke’s Bay was an easy decision to make.

Jon Peet, Viticulturist

Jon has spent the past 26 years working in a variety of horticultural and agricultural roles. His experience includes growing a large range of food crops in various parts of the world, and providing specialist environmental advice to the European food industry. Jon moved to NZ in 2002 to develop his growing passion for the wine industry, by developing and running his own winegrowing business. After a brief interlude of lecturing students for 3 years, he joined the team at Elephant Hill in 2013. Jon’s passion is to produce grapes of the highest quality that truly reflect the uniqueness of the place in which they are grown.