Highfield Estate Winery
A beautiful collection of handcrafted, food-friendly wines from Marlborough, New Zealand
A beautiful collection of handcrafted, food-friendly wines and a stunning state-of-the-art winemaking facility makes Highfield Estate a standout destination in New Zealand’s famed Marlborough wine county. Originally established in 1989 by the Walsh family, Highfield Estate is an ultra boutique winery located in the esteemed Marlborough wine country of New Zealand. This limited production winery has been turning out award-winning wines since its inception and it has quickly grown to become one of the most visited and celebrated wineries in the region.
The Walsh family, originally from Ireland, purchased the 365-acre property in 1935 and named the estate Highfield after an area near Galway Bay in their Irish homeland. Highfield was a farm for many years, where the Walshes grew crops, grazed stock, and bred horses. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that they turned the reins over to their son Bill Walsh, whose entrepreneurial spirit had new plans for the fertile estate.
Bill Walsh had caught word that a major wine company was planning to plant wine grapes in the Marlborough region, and he wanted in on the movement as well. He planted a couple acres of Muller Thurgau (a sweet German varietal), but what he stumbled upon in the process was a blessing that would shape the future for Highfield Estate.
Bill discovered some “rouge” grapes amongst his plantings - grapes that turned out to be Sauvignon Blanc. The wines produced from these grapes were so spectacular that Bill decided to make and market wines under his own label and Highfield Estate Winery was ultimately born - it was 1989.
Bill had high hopes for his new venture, but with an unstable market and high interest rates, he was in need of further funding to get the winery underway. In 1991 he found his solution, transferring ownership of Highfield Estate to a partnership team between Shin Yokoi and Tom Tenuwera. The new owners would prove to take Highfield to the next level with a world-class winemaking facility, an award-winning winemaker, and exceptional wines that are now renowned all over the world.
Shin Yokoi was a businessman from Japan, specializing in fire fighting products. He had a serious passion for wine, especially French wine, and had even opened a small Champagne store near his home in Kyoto. His enthusiasm for the industry was shared by friend Tom Tenuwera, a Sri Lankan businessman who had spent much of his professional life in Bristol, England, and the Middle East. The two were entranced by the spectacular beauty of New Zealand and the charm of its people, and they had faith in Marlborough’s potential for making fine wines. To them, this was the ultimate opportunity to fulfill a shared lifelong dream.
Yokoi and Tenuwera made a considerable initial investment in technology to greatly improve the winemaking facility, and built a beautifully designed, Tuscan inspired winery with a traditional underground cellar for natural temperature barrel maturation and special fermentations. They also built a designated area for the maturing of Highfield’s sparkling wine, a cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Because of Yokoi and Tenuwera’s high aspirations and dedication, the winery has become a brand associated with quality the world over.
Highfield keeps production small and focused on just five wines: a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and their ‘Elestrée’ Cuvée sparkling wine. The grapes are all produced from the Marlborough region, with a special focus on the Southern Valleys, where much of Marlborough’s most exciting Pinot Noirs are from. The limited portfolio ensures consistent
quality control vintage to vintage.
In 1999, winemaker Alistair Soper joined the Highfield team, bringing with him international winemaking experience and a minimalist approach that allows the grapes and their natural characteristics to shine through. His time spent at Highfield has brought numerous medal-winning vintages and high ratings from the international press.
From one of the great winemaking regions in the world, Highfield Estate justifies why Marlborough, New Zealand is becoming synonymous with Pinot Noir and cool-climate wines of vibrant fruit purity. With this month’s special international selection for the Pinot Noir Series, you will discover what all the hype is truly about! Cheers.
About the Vineyard
In the north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and towering mountain ranges to the north and south, lies the distinctive wine growing region of Marlborough, home to some of the finest cool-climate wines in the world. The diverse landscape matched with the seemingly magical synergy of climate and soil makes for wines with intense flavors, balance, and extraordinary purity. Winemakers continue to embrace this small, distinguished region, producing wines with stellar international recognition.
Highfield Estate is located on Marlborough’s Brookby Ridge, overlooking its vineyards in the Southern Valleys. The gentle north facing slopes of their vineyards see all day sun, giving strong, bright flavors to the grapes and a lovely clarity to the wines.
Alistair Soper - Winemaker
Alistair Soper became Highfield Estate’s winemaker in January of 1999, after working a number of years at Grove Mill Winery and spending harvests abroad in Oregon, Bordeaux, and the South of France. His experience makes him one of Marlborough’s most desirable winemakers, and for good reason - his minimalist approach to winemaking and talent for crafting wines that enhance, and are enhanced by, great food, have landed his wines at the top of the charts time and time again.
Soper is joined by two assistant winemakers at Highfield Estate - Mike Mullany and Jeremy Brown, who also gained international experience before finding a home at Highfield. Mullany spent time in California and Australia, while Brown honed his talents in Oregon, Australia, and Austria. Together, the three share a passion for making new world wines and feel blessed to have Highfield’s exceptional grapes to work with.
At the off chance these three are not in the Highfield cellar, they are likely found enjoying the beautiful outdoors that New Zealand has to offer.