History

Abbey Story (2002 - Today)

We believe there is a lot to be said for just loving wine. Loving the tradition, the process, the idea, the taste, the sight, the feeling, the sharing. The experience.
It was our love of wine that brought us to develop and run our own single estate family owned vineyard.

In order to produce world-class ultra premium wine, we knew we had to find the perfect location to develop our dream. Coming from a ‘heartland’ background we already knew a thing or two about good land and how important it is in order to produce a quality product.

In 2002, we found what we needed. Located in the red metal triangle of Bridge Pa, Hawke’s Bay, on 13 hectares of silted red metal soils, now sits a single estate winery, proud to be making some of the best wine New Zealand has to offer.

The character of Bridge Pa Triangle soils lends strong exponents of blackberry, raspberry, and eastern spices, not to mention the influence of early ripening. This allows Abbey Cellars to deliver powerfully deep and rich reds with smooth tannins in a middleweight style that is barrelled in 100 percent oak.
The name Abbey Cellars was inspired by many years of travel and a penchant for the churches, cathedrals and abbeys of years gone by. For us the feelings invoked by these beautiful buildings of the past; beauty, mystery, tradition and romance, are not dissimilar to what we can draw from a fine glass of wine.

Believing that a truly good wine captures all those elements and more, we felt it appropriate to marry the two concepts creating for ourselves, and our customers, a truly unique and complete wine experience.

As winemakers we are careful to apply traditional methods in our winemaking process. We place huge importance on quality and each harvest our grapes are handpicked and then reselected to ensure only the highest quality grapes are used.

Grapes are ready only when they reach certain degree of ripeness (mixture of sugar and acidity levels) and our wines are aged in premium quality French Oak barrels. After extended aging, our wines are released to the market only when they are ready to drink.

Like the traditional Abbeys of the past we are mostly self-sufficient, and as a single estate winery we use only what we grow ourselves, to create our fine wines.

The Abbey Cellars winery building is housed on the same property as the vineyard itself and is a spectacular sight for anyone who visits the vineyard or the cellar door. A unique interpretation of a gothic abbey, the grand proportions evoke an authentic yet modern feel, while the views out over the vines complete its truly captivating ambience.

The business itself is a family affair with both our daughter (Natarsha) and our son (Dermot) contributing to the success of Abbey Cellars. The family component of Abbey Cellars adds to our enjoyment of the business but also lends itself to our boutique brand. We take pride in every aspect of our wines, each one contributed by a member of the extended Abbey Cellars’ family.

Many people ask us how we ever perceived running a vineyard and winery as a new start-up venture. Our answer is simple; Abbey Cellars is our love. Our commitment to what we love and our passion for fine wine makes every day extraordinary.

The Abbeys of the world hold many secrets, as does our own here in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. We are careful to employ traditional winemaking techniques for each vintage; however we do have a few secrets of our own - secrets that will be passed from generation to generation of the Abbey’s winemakers, for years to come.

Abbey Cellars - A divine drop!

Work Team

Dermot Haworth
CEO

Dermot is our cellar door manager and resident beer brewer. You'll see him at the cellar door most days or answering your emails.

Also from a dairy and sheep farming background until university. Then concentrating on a business and language degree. Dermot had a career in Banking networks and setting up data centres, until Jan & Warren wanted some help with their wine venture.

Initially helping out for 6 months to do some overseas travel, Dermot enjoyed the vineyard life more than thought and has been helping out ever since.

Dermot's favourite wines are Dessert wines, Rose, Malbec & Icon wines.

Natarsha Haworth
Consultant

Natarsha is our lower north island sales rep. This is her second career in hospitality. Her first being on the Interisland ferry, travelling to the south island each day.

Natarsha also grew up on farms and ran a dairy farm for a few years when Jan & Warren retired.

Residing in Palmerston North with her three children, she still finds time do her sales calls and you will most likely see her do a tasting at your favourite wine shop!

Natarsha's favourite wine is Rose!

Jan & Warren Haworth
Managers

A couple worked hard building houses and milking cows to realise their dream of creating their own winery.

It was time for a change, time to start planning for retirement. They had a vision of sun-drenched days tending their vines and entertaining visitors with a drop or two of their own wine.

The couple went home and began planning to turn the dream into reality. With only their own resources to draw on, it has taken a while, but almost 20 years later they have finally made it.

Warren used his building skills to produce a stylised French gothic abbey that provides cellar door tastings and a winemaking centre. At 69, he was still hammering nails.

Jan and daughter Natarsha have split the North Island sales between them, travelling between a selection of liquor stores and supermarkets. Jan also creates the top platters in Hawke's Bay!

Jan's favourite wine is Riesling and Warren's is Cabernet.

Amelia Riwai
Winemaker

Amelia’s winemaking career has spanned over 2 decades and has seen her produce internationally acclaimed wines both from New Zealand and France.

Having completed her Bachelor of Commerce at Otago University, Amelia made the decision to follow her passion and enthusiasm for the wine industry so went on to complete a Post-Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University in 1995.

Amelia then took off on her OE spending time in Asia and Europe, visiting some of the world’s best known wine regions in France, Germany and Italy. With wine fast becoming her main focus, Amelia returned to New Zealand to complete a vintage at Vidal Estate in Hawke’s Bay. From there Amelia worked two vintages a year for the next 5 years in both France and New Zealand. This period as a ‘flying winemaker’ encompassed vintages in Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand and the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France.

Amelia joined Matariki Wines as Assistant Winemaker in December 2000 and was promoted to Senior Winemaker/Winery Manager in November 2003. She headed the winemaking team at Matariki for 5 years with a philosophy based firmly on the belief that the best wines are made in the vineyard and understanding the concept of ‘terroir’ is very important. She believes that the skill of a winemaker is to give a true expression of the fruit with the use of traditional and modern techniques both in the winery and vineyard.

Swirl Wine Ltd was established by Amelia in mid-2009 to enable her the flexibility of still being involved in the wine industry while raising her family with her husband Barry Riwai. Amelia is now able to offer her skills as an experienced winemaker and winery manager to consult other wineries and vineyards on their winemaking, research and development, compliancy and systems.

Amelia joined the Abbey team in 2011, helping improve and build on a great range of single estate wines.

Reviews

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Bishop Merlot 2013

85% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 13 months in approx. 35% new French oak. Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has a full and densely packed nose of ripe black berry and black plum aromas along with Asian spices, and toasty, bacon-like oak notes. Full-bodied, the flavours of sweetly ripe black berries and plums fill the mouth. The fruit is melded with layers of blue fruits, spices, and toasty oak that unfold in waves, enriching the fruit. The mouthfeel is soft and fleshy, with good tannin structure and fresh acidity in support, providing texture, vitality and line. The flavours carry through to a long and concentrated finish of spiced plums and toasty oak. This is a rich, fleshy, hearty and ripe, plummy and toasty flavoured Merlot with good structure.

Raymond Chan

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Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Bright straw-yellow colour, lighter on rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with subtly restrained aromas of yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits, with nutty, vanillin lifted oak notes, the bouquet building in depth. Medium-full bodied, clean and clear fruit flavours of white and yellow stonefruits show delicate nutty and flinty lees flavours. The mouthfeel is gently creamy with soft, balanced acidity in support. This has good underlying power, with a fine phenolic thread guiding the palate to a lightly textured finish with long citrus and nutty notes. This is a stylish Chardonnay with restrained fruit and barrel-ferment flavours and subtle nutty interest. Match with most white meat dishes over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit selectively hand-picked, WBP, and full barrel-fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 9 months in 33% new French oak with approx. 25% MLF and given 4 months batonnage

Raymond Chan

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Temptation Malbec 2009

Fresh, juicy red with ripe plum, red berries and hints of spice. Deliciously easy to drink with sweet fruit supported by fruity acidity rather than tannins. 85/100

Bob Campbell (Master of Wine)

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Prophet Cabernet Blend 2013

Full, deep, black-hued ruby-red with purple hues on rim. The nose is soft and harmoniously melded with aromas of ripe black and redcurrants, dark red plums, dark herbs and spicy oak. The aromatics are integrated and exude good ripeness. Medium-full bodied, the flavours of ripe blackcurrants, red berry fruits and plums are elegantly presented. The mouthfeel is smooth with integrated, fine-grained and supple tannins and discreet background acidity. The flavours flow effortlessly with a fine guiding line, unfolding herb and cedary oak nuances, leading to a gentle, smooth, grainy finish. This is a smooth, supple, blackcurrant and plummy fruited Cabernet blend with integrated and balanced oak. Serve with roast lamb and beef, and with semi-hard cheeses over the next 4-5 years. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Malbec and 9% Merlot, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 13 months in approx. 30% new French oak.

Bob Campbell (Master of Wine)