Perseverance Estate, Alexandra Basin
Just a moment away from the main Southern highway passing through the Alexandra Basin, down a long and winding driveway, you can find the home of Jennie & Murray Hughes, and their Perseverance Estate vineyard.
2.02ha (5acres) were planted in 2003, with another plot the same size planted in 2008, focused entirely on Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris grapes.
Shaughn Jenkins sits down with Jennie Hughes at her home (along with miniature schnauzers, Poppy and Rosie, which she welcomes visitors into as a tasting room, to find out what motivates her production in the Alexandra Basin:
Shaughn Jenkins: There happened to be quite a few new plantings taking place around Central Otago during the early 2000's, what inspired the two of you to plant your own?
Jennie Hughes: Well first of all, we really like wine! We've travelled extensively around the world, and continue to do so, and have always made the effort to explore the world's wine regions & take part in a lot of wine tours.
It helped with planting that I have a degree in horticulture, though I discovered viticulture to be vastly more complicated than I expected here in Central Otago, so there has been plenty to learn over the years, especially once we moved onto the site full time from Dunedin in 2010.
Shaughn: What makes this site special?
Jennie: Well it's interesting, we chose this site with intuition based on horticultural knowledge, which ended up with a site that actually has a more fertile soil than we would now look when scouting quality sites for vines, with plenty of deep alluvial fans present on site.
What that means for us is that we will need to pay plenty of attention throughout the year, trimming the canopy, stressing the vines & making sure that only the best grapes are made into our wine.
Shaughn: As a member of Alexandra Basin Winegrowers, how do you think Alexandra Basin differs from the rest of Central Otago?
Jennie: More than anything, we are a really tight-knit community. We are almost like a neighbourhood association of winegrowers, who have tried hard to develop a network of support, whether it comes to advice, winemaking facilities or in the event of a difficult year, fruit supply.
Stylistically, I believe the Alexandra Pinot Noir style features substantially more red fruit characters than most of the major growing regions, and the wines are kept upright with high acidity, that stops the fruit from becoming to juicy or jammy.
Shaughn: Finally, where can people get a hold of Perseverance Estate wines?
Jennie: We sell mostly in the local market, as once we have selected the finest grapes from the vineyard, there will not be a large quantity of wine for our winemaker Antony Worch to produce.
Sales here in person, as well as through our website are welcomed, we also focus heavily in the local towns here of Clyde & Alexandra, with the my store 'Purveyors' being an excellent spot to pick up the wines.
Jennie kindly took me through the range of wines that Perseverance Estate produces, including the Pinot Gris 2016, Rosé 2017 & Pinot Noir 2016 with my favourite wine being the Pinot Noir 2016, a pale ruby-hued style with cinnamon spice, plum & cranberry with a soft tannin profile & easy-going finish. All fruit for this wine comes from the original plot planted in 2003, called the Old Cottage Block.
Naming the site Perseverance Estate seems evocative of the kind of determination it often takes to start a vineyard in Central Otago, but the name is also connected to the area's history; with the "Perseverance" being a 'current wheel gold dredge' built in 1886, that was moored in the Clutha River near to the current property & an imagine of the dredge is featured upon the wine label.
Click here to check out Perseverance Estate!