Steyn Nelson Vintage Port 2010

The Steyn family based near Motueka, Nelson, may have one of the most ambitious and unique wine ventures in this country. Adriaan and Sonia Steyn came from South Africa to New Zealand with the express desire to make a genuine Vintage Port style wine. Adriaan and Sonia, business professionals, wanted a change in their lifestyle, and following extensive research on the wine style, varieties, growing conditions, climate, soils and a host of other factors, found their ideal property on Batchelor Ford Road on the southern outskirts of Motueka, from a choice of sites around the world. Purchased as a deer farm in 2006, they converted it to a vineyard in 2007. The estate is 7.5 ha, but only 2.0 h are planted to vine, these being Touriga Nacional, the foundation variety for Vintage Port, with some Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris for the purpose of distilling the wine into brandy for the fortification of the port wine. The Touriga Nacional cuttings came from a local nursery, a member of the N.Z. Grapevine Improvement Group, which sourced them from a North Island vineyard. The first crop from the Steyn Estate vineyard was in 2010.

Adriaan in particular, has a long-standing interest in wine having studied at the Cape Wine Academy followed by further studies at Stellenbosch University. He takes charge of all the viticulture, and the winemaking is conducted at their winery on-site. Adriaan, Sonia and their son live in their family home there too, so they are fully immersed in all aspects of the venture. The fruit is hand-picked, sorted, and fermented there. The brandy is distilled in a hand-made alembic copper pot still over open flame. Once the port wine is fortified, it is left to settle in tank for a year, before being racked into barrel. The wine is matured in these seasoned barrels for 8 years before filtering and bottling, all on site. The Steyn family have the services of a viticultural contractor for pruning, netting and harvesting, otherwise everything is done by Adriaan, Sonia and their son.

The Steyns have approached making the wine in an authentic manner, as near as practically possible to the making of Vintage Port in the Douro Valley in Portugal. The key points to the authenticity are the use of the Touriga Nacional variety, and their own, quality spirit. They bottle in Vintage Port-style bottles, with natural cork as the seal. Bottling the wine after 8 years in barrel makes the wine closer to ‘Late Bottled Vintage’ than ‘Vintage’ technically in style, but increased accessibility both wine-wise and for the market is the benefit. The projected maximum production is no more than 5,000 bottles. I believe they are the only people to make this style of wine to this degree of authenticity in New Zealand, and possibly among the few in the world outside Portugal. The Steyns are very aware of the specialised market for their wine, and intend on making the initial releases at an accessible price. Here, I review their first release, the 2010 vintage. I believe the wine is of very high quality, with much in common to genuine Vintage Port, or to be more accurate, Late Bottled Vintage Port, but the wine also has uniqueness, due to its New Zealand provenance, and distinctive flavours that also reflect the Steyn’s hand in the making of it. For enquiries on availability, contact Adriaan on email: [email protected] or on cellphone: 027 813-4163.


  • Steyn Nelson Vintage Port 2010

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