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Mission Estate Winery

New Zealand


New Zealand's oldest winery blending traditional techniques with cutting edge technologies

When you consider it is more than 160 years old, you can understand why Mission Estate Winery is considered the cornerstone of the modern New Zealand wine industry.

The story begins way back in 1838 when a group of French Marist (Society of Mary) missionaries sailed to New Zealand to tend to the souls of the island’s inhabitants. The group eventually found Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island’s east coast and established the nation’s first winery that primarily made sacramental and table wines.

Mission Estate Winery sold its first commercial wines in 1870, a collection of mostly dry reds. Since its inception Mission Estate Winery has remained true to the traditions established by the early French winemaking pioneers. Many of the Marist Brothers have returned to France throughout the years to study viticulture and learn winemaking skills.

In 1880, a new two-storied house was built and named La Grande Maison (The Big House). In 1897, the 800-acre Mission Estate was purchased and additional vines planted. In 1909, a decision was made to move the Mission community and La Grande Maison to its present site. The building was cut into eleven sections, rolled on logs and pulled by traction engines, a journey that took two days to complete.

On February 3rd, 1931, an earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) struck the area and caused the deaths of nine members of the Marist order. The damaged sections of the Mission community were immediately repaired and are still in use today. A beautiful wooden chapel was built shortly after the earthquake that is a show point of the entire Mission Estate grounds.

Today, La Grande Maison on the Mission Estate plays host to more than 130,000 annual visitors who enjoy what is considered New Zealand’s ultimate wine experience. A much-respected Mission Restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and offers an excellent opportunity for wine and food pairings.

Mission Estate also practices sustainable wine growing and utilizes an environmental management system that leads New Zealand in sustainability. It also owns three estate vineyards, each with different soil structures that provide fruit for the company’s Reserve Programs. Each site differs in climate and provides a myriad of contrasting elements that provide status and significance to the Mission Estate Reserve portfolio.

Map of the area

New Zealand Adventure Package!

Picture of New Zealand Adventure Package!

Our unique "Adventure Package" takes you beyond the wines to experience delectable selections of imported gourmet treats from the same country as the wines featured in our International Wine Club. We take the time to search out small, artisan producers who have never exported to the United States to include in your package!

The International Gourmet Adventure Package from New Zealand includes the following items:

• Kamahi Honey - J. Friend and Co.
• Onion Balsamic Marmalata - Wild Country
• Dried Kiwi Bites - Kiwi Bites
• Steak Sauce - Artisan Vinegar
• Lager Vinegar - Artisan Vinegar
• 3 Hot Sauce Tasters - Wild West Worcester (Plus coupon!)
• Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter - Fix & Fogg

Order your New Zealand Adventure Package today!

Paul Mooney - Winemaker

Picture of Paul Mooney - Winemaker

Born in Alexandra, Central Otago in southern New Zealand, Paul Mooney has been the winemaker for Mission Estate for over thirty years. This makes him one of the most experienced winemakers in New Zealand! His winemaking philosophy is strongly influenced by his mentor, Brother John, who trained in Bordeaux, France during the 1960's, and also Mission Estate's 160+ year old French heritage. Paul has a strong focus on making approachable, understated wines that reflect their sense of place. He also believes in sustainability and helped Mission Estate gain their sustainability credentials in 1998. In 2014, the winery earned its organic certification which has elevated the wine quality even further.

Paul Mooney has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waikato and worked as a geophysics technician and a trainee engineer prior to joining the wine industry.

Fun Facts!

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• New Zealand's Central Otago is the world's most southerly grape growing region.

• Vines were first planted in New Zealand during colonial times in 1819.

• The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which means the land of the long white cloud.

• One third of New Zealand's land is protected by the Department of Conservation.

• Two-thirds of New Zealand's wine production is white.

• 9:1 is the ratio of sheep to people in New Zealand - the highest in the world.

• In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote.

• About 90% of New Zealand wineries are bottling wines with screw cap closures.

• This month's featured winery, Mission Estate, is New Zealand's oldest existing vineyard, which makes Hawke's Bay the country's oldest wine producing region.

• New Zealand is part of a 93% submerged continent known as Zealadia.

• The silver fern is native to New Zealand and is commonly associated with the country. The symbol is also often used in Maori artwork.

Hawke's Bay

Picture of Hawke's Bay

Located on New Zealand’s North Island, the vineyards of the Hawke’s Bay region is the country’s second largest growing area. The climate is very sunny, with heat summations somewhere between Burgundy and Bordeaux, while the maritime influence tempers hot summer days and permits a long growing season. The surrounding high country offers wind protection for the vines and makes Hawke’s Bay a world-class growing area. There are more than seventy working wineries in Hawke’s Bay that produce mostly red wines (the region produced almost 90% of the entire country’s Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah as recently as last year).

Hawke's Bay covers a total land area of slightly over 54,000 square miles with just over 215 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. Vineyards are concentrated around the Hastings and Napier cities within sheltering inland ranges although more are being planted over a larger area to the North and South.

Over thousands of years, the four major Hawke's Bay rivers moved and formed valleys and terraces to create over 25 different soil types from clay loam, to limestone to sands and free draining gravels and red metal. Altitude within Hawke's Bay ranges from sea level to over 600 feet inland. Warm north-facing hillsides, river valleys and terraces, and coastal areas provide a diversity of low vigor (perfectly balanced ratio of fruit to leaves to canes) vineyard sites suitable for a diversity of varieties.

Flag of New Zealand

Picture of Flag of New Zealand

Adopted as the national flag in 1902, the New Zealand flag is the symbol of the realm, the government, and the people of the country. The British Union Jack in the upper left corner honors New Zealand's historical origins as a British colony and dominion. The four stars represent the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross, which emphasizes New Zealand's location in the Southern Pacific Ocean (the constellation can usually only be viewed from the southern hemisphere).

There have been numerous calls in the last few decades for New Zealand to adopt a new flag. Some people argue that the current flag is too similar to the Australian one or that it is no longer appropriate for the Union Jack to dominate the space. In 2016, for the first time, New Zealanders voted on their flag and opted to remain with the current design.