Forging a new path in premium winemaking in the country's undiscovered region of Cheviot Hills.
Inspired by the beauty of New Zealand and its stunning wines, David and Leigh Teece founded Mt. Beautiful Wines in the North Canterbury region of New Zealand in 2004. Rather than settling in one of North Canterbury’s proven wine growing areas, the Teece family pioneered a previously undiscovered wine region - the picturesque district of Cheviot Hills. Here they built one of New Zealand’s rising star wineries and this month’s special international Pinot Noir Series feature. Winery owner David Teece is a native New Zealander and has a strong background in economic policy.
After earning first class honors in the subject at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, he moved to the United States where he completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. Today he has risen to the top tier of global business as an academic and entrepreneur. In addition to being the Tusher professor of global business at the University of California Berkeley, David is a founder of the well-respected Berkeley Research Group LLC. His wife Leigh is quite accomplished as well, holding a degree in international relations from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Leigh is a native Californian and worked for many years in international banking and venture capital before branching into various philanthropies.
Needless to say, David and Leigh Teece have been very successful in their various endeavors, so when they decided to start a winery in New Zealand, it was no question it would be something spectacular.Building the family winery was Leigh’s idea. She longed to participate in the growing wine industry and was inspired by the beauty of her husband’s homeland. They decided to settle in David’s native North Canterbury, but didn’t want to follow in others’ footsteps. An entrepreneur at heart, David brought together a team of experts and charged them with finding a new sub-region capable of producing premium wines.
The Cheviot Hills wine region of North Canterbury was born.Under the guidance of consulting viticulturist Murray Paterson, the first vines were planted in 2004 to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. The Teeces named their vineyard Mt. Beautiful after a nearby local landmark and the new family business was on its way. The first vintage of Mt. Beautiful fruit was harvested in 2007. While designing the label for Mt. Beautiful’s first wines, David and Leigh decided to incorporate David’s father’s handwriting. His father, Allan Teece, had served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in North Africa, Palestine and Italy from 1940 to 1945. The handwritten letters he sent home in those years served as the inspiration for the label and David worked to compose the name ‘Mt. Beautiful’ from various pieces of his letters.
The first Mt. Beautiful vintage was released in September of 2008, and the Teeces immediately knew they had something special. Being the first of its kind in a new wine region, Mt. Beautiful had a competitive edge on other New Zealand wineries and its wines were being honored all over the country. Much of the credit can be given to the exceptional team David and Leigh assembled to be the force behind the Mt. Beautiful brand. When they embarked on this new journey, the Teeces put together a group of local experts in every field needed and it seems their efforts have certainly paid off. From their 30-year veteran winemaker Sam Weaver to internationally experienced vineyard manager Fin Grieve, the quality of Mt. Beautiful’s people is just about as good as it gets.
The quality can also be seen in the vineyard. Respect for the land and local community are of the utmost importance at Mt. Beautiful and it is an ongoing goal to achieve a sustainable functioning landscape that can be enjoyed and utilized for generations to come. All the pieces are coming together at Mt. Beautiful, and no where is it more prevalent than in its consistent releases of award-winning, highly rated wines from Cheviot Hills. It goes without saying that this new winery has a bright looking future, not just in New Zealand, but around the world.
Sam Weaver - Winemaker
Winemaker Sam Weaver is no new kid on the block. With a background covering every aspect of the wine business, from retail and commercial to production and technical, Sam is one of the most broadly experienced wine professionals in all of New Zealand. Today, he has been in the wine business for over 30 years.
Born in Britain, Sam earned a degree in microbiology from London University and then worked in the UK wine trade for 10 years. During this time, he became the managing director of London wine merchant, La Reserve.
In 1988, Sam moved to New Zealand with his family to further pursue his love of wine and to become a winemaker.
Sam's New Zealand career has included roles as Chief Winemaker at The Stoneleigh Winery (then Marlborough's second largest winery) and serving as winemaking consultants to numerous New Zealand wineries. In 1997, he started his own label, Churton, which is distributed world-wide.
Working at Mt. Beautiful, Sam is intrigued by the new Cheviot Hills wine district of North Canterbury and enjoys being a part of this new venture. His love of the land, technical skill, and experience with consumer insight makes him a rare breed on the New Zealand wine scene.
The Flag of New Zealand
New Zealand’s flag was adopted on March 24, 1902 and features the British Union Jack in the upper left corner, and four red stars making up the Southern Cross to the right.
The Union Jack, which is the flag of Great Britain, reflects New Zealand’s history as a British colony. The Southern Cross is a constellation of stars, also known as Crux, that can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The stars have the illusion of forming the ends of a cross. The flag’s navy blue background is said to represent the blue sea and clear sky surrounding the country. New Zealand’s flag is very similar to the flag of Australia - the only difference being that Australia’s flag features six stars that are white, rather than red.
North Canterbury Region, Cheviot Hills District
Mt. Beautiful Vineyard claims the Cheviot Hills as its location. Cheviot is located on New Zealand's northeastern side, just below the southern banks of the Waiau River near the settlement of Spotswood and north of the city of Christchurch. David and Leigh Teece sought out this new region because it shares many of the best qualities of New Zealand’s most admired winegrowing regions.
The Mt. Beautiful vineyard is sheltered in the Cheviot Spotswood Basin, surrounded by hills, the Kaikoura Mountains to the north and the Mt. Beautiful landmark in the local coastal range to the east. After just a few harvests, the location is proving to be an exceptional site for growing Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Cheviot Hills has long been known for its sheep farming, but with the founding of Mt. Beautiful vineyard, the region enters a new phase of its history - as a world-class destination for New Zealand wines.
Its coastal location assures good air drainage and excellent frost protection. The vineyards are terraced and enjoy the cool, temperate climate. Summers are dry and enjoy westerly winds in both October and November. In many ways, this part of the Canterbury Region is symbolic of many New Zealand growing areas and produces extremely high caliber fruit. Difficult varietals, i.e., Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can produce exceptional fruit in this environment.