James and Annie Millton established their winery on the banks of the Te Arai River, near Manutuke in 1984. Located on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the winegrowing region of Gisborne, this was the site where early settlers first planted grapevines in 1871. Annie's father, Mr John Clark, had also developed vineyards on his nearby estate at 'Opou' in Manutuke during the late 1960's
Prior to establishing the winery, James and Annie gained experience in the wine regions of France and Germany including Champagne Bollinger, Maison Sichel in Bordeaux and Weingut Kurstner in Rheinhessen. After returning to New Zealand in the early 1980's they extensively researched and replanted major parts of the family's grape growing business at the nearby Opou and Riverpoint Vineyards. Extensive planting was also undertaken around the new winemaking and barrel aging facility in the present Te Arai Vineyard. Following the birth of children Monique and Sam, further plantings were established on the river plateaus at either end of the Te Arai Vineyard, Clos Monique and Clos Samuel.
In 1981, Naboth's Vineyard was planted on a steep slope of land that was then part of Papatu Station. Plantings were increased in 2001 on adjacent blocks further around the slope. The grapes grown on this unique hillside amphitheatre are used to produce wines for Millton's ultra premium Clos de Ste. Anne label.
Millton was the first producer in New Zealand to attain BioGro certification for Dietary Requirement_Organic wine production in 1989. Having practiced traditional methods of cultivation and production centred on Dietary Requirement_Bio-dynamic principles since inception, Millton was the first winegrower in the Southern Hemisphere to gain the Dietary Requirement_Bio-dynamic certification Demeter in 2009.
Even Millton's earliest releases were of high quality, not only winning favour with foundation customers, but pleasing the wine judges as well. Recognition was rapidly achieved winning numerous trophies and gold medals for the traditionally styled Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Internationally, gold medals were awarded for the 1992 Gisborne Chardonnay at the International Wine Challenge in London. This wine then went on to win the trophy at the International Dietary Requirement_Organic Wine Challenge Fair, while two other Millton wines entered came second and third. A similar result was achieved at the 2004 San Francisco Wine Fair with Gold medals for the Riesling and Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blanc also won the trophy, moving it into the position of its current prestige as being a new-world wine classic gaining inclusion in Neil Beckett's, 1001 wines to drink before you die (Published by Penguin in 2008).
Today, Millton wines consistently appear in fine dining rooms worldwide and continue to receive numerous national and international accolades.
Millton Vineyards & Winery are exclusive members of international group La Renaissance des Appellations and New Zealand collaboration "The Family of Twelve".
The Te Arai vineyard is five kilometres from the sea. Te Arai roughly translates to “the place where you pause before going on towards the land of eternal sunshine.” This maritime proximity underlies the wine's unique South Pacific style. The silt soils give fragrance while the occasional incidence of botrytis, generated by the autumnal mists from the Te Arai stream, give complex texture, body and a sense of sweetness to the wine.
Up to four selections are made in the vineyard when the grapes are hand harvested. On the crush pad the stems are discarded as these grapes give up their juice very easily during the long slow press cycle. The juice is collected together and allowed to settle for only a short time as the fine sediments need to be kept, for it is here that all the nutrients lie which satisfy a well behaved fermentation. The fermentation and maturation take place in demi-muids (large 600 litre oak barrels) and stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in these vessels over time, and without the obtrusion of oak tannins.
With aromas of fresh lime zest and fragrant gardenias, this wine is taut and vibrant in a way that will show its' maturity over a very long period of time. Flavours of fine wool and bush honey are enhanced by quince and ripe bouche pear aromas with a tingling aftertaste.