Written by Victoria Clark
Fondly acknowledging the three women who create the wines at Kina Cliffs, owner Julie Ashcroft recently decided on a name for the vineyard’s 2018 rosé. She has called it ‘Three Girls’ Blush.’
“The name recognises our viticulturist, Rhiannon Jones, and our wine-maker, Emmanuelle David – and I’m the third ‘girl’ because I planted the vines,” Julie explains.
“Emmanuelle makes all our wines and Rhi has been my righthand woman since 2011 and I couldn’t function without her. She does everything from pruning in the winter to selling our wines in the Cellar Door.”
It’s almost 16 years since Julie and her husband Alistair, a software-developer, returned to New Zealand from a life in Europe. When their plans to buy a London apartment fell through, the couple drastically changed tack.
Julie asked her family in her hometown of Motueka to keep their eyes open for some land. What they found was a four-hectare, lofty site above the Tasman Sea on Kina Peninsula. The Ashcrofts made the purchase from the other side of the world and returned to New Zealand in 2002.
Julie did a one-year viticulture course at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and, with friends and family, spent seven weeks in 2004 digging 8,500 holes and hand-planting a grape vine in each.
“Initially, we were contract-growers for local wineries, but when the glut hit the industry with the massive crops of 2009, we went from everyone wanting our grapes to no-one wanting them. That pushed us to start making our own wine.”
As mother to 12-year-old twin boys, Julie says she made ‘a conscious choice’ when they were very young, not to travel to promote Kina Cliffs’ wines; therefore, the label is only available in local cafes, restaurants and at Kina Cliffs.
The Ashcrofts have since built a new house, surrounded on three sides by grape-vines and incorporating Kina Cliffs Cellar Door at one end.
“It’s very satisfying sitting here, looking over the vines and seeing the work you’ve accomplished during the day - it’s not like an office job, where you shut down the computer and all your work’s hidden.”