The Volcanic Hills label was established by winemakers Brent Park and Sean Beer as a ‘virtual winery’ operation purchasing fruit and renting winery space to vinify the wines. This is a model which offers certain economies, and in the right hands results in creditable wines, as is the case with Volcanic Hills. However a greater degree of control is afforded when the winemaking is conducted in one’s own premises and plant, though this can require considerable capital outlay. It’s a matter of balance and compromise.
My review of the Volcanic Hills 2012 whites and 2011 Pinot Noir referred to the ‘virtual winery’ operation run successfully by Park and Beer (click here to read). However, Sean Beer pointed out to me that changes are afoot with their new winery operating for this 2013 vintage. Brent and Sean opened a tasting room at the top of ‘Skyline’ Rotorua’s gondola in December last year. The next phase was the development of a winery production facility at the base of Mount Ngongotaha, adjacent to the ‘Skyline’ base terminal. The goal is to have the Volcanic Hills wines fully produced in Rotorua, and in doing so, the brand will be Rotorua’s own.
Brent and Sean have fitted out an existing building in Rotorua, gathering equipment in time for the 2013 harvest. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be fully handled at the new operations site, though the other varietals will need to be brought in at various stages of vinification due to refrigeration and bottling requirements. The plan is not to “grow into a massive operation, but rather to provide a new and interesting point of difference in our city”. The anticipated crush for 2013 will be approx. 30 tonnes, for a production of around 3,000 cases of wine, with the winery completed to handle around 100 tonnes.
The winery will be a first for Rotorua. Combined with the Volcanic Hills tasting room overlooking the Rotorua city and countryside, Brent and Sean will certainly bring the New Zealand wine scene to the heartland of the country. www.volcanichills.co.nz