About Dog Point Vineyards
Located in Marlborough, New Zealand's premium wine growing region, Dog Point Vineyard produce wines that reflect the experience and passion of the people that make them. All fruit is from hand-picked, low cropped vines. Wines are made to drink well on release or cellar gracefully for many years.
Dog Point is one of Marlborough’s oldest private vineyards. Established in 2002 by partners, Ivan & Margaret Sutherland, and James & Wendy Healy. After working together at Cloudy Bay, Ivan and James decided to return to a more hands-on approach and establish their own wine label. Dog Point is part of the Family of Twelve. The Family of Twelve is a fraternity of twelve of New Zealand’s most prestigious and enduring artisanal wineries.
The name Dog Point
The name Dog Point dates back to the earliest European settlement of Marlborough and the introduction of sheep to the district. These were the days where, due to a lack of fences, boundary riders used boundary keeping dogs to protect the local flocks of sheep.
Sometimes, these dogs became lost and bred to form a marauding pack that attacked local flocks of sheep. The dogs lived on the tussock and scrub-covered southern hills of what is now Dog Point Vineyards, a landscape characterised by the iconic New Zealand native plant the Ti Kouka (= cabbage) tree which appears on the Dog Point logo.
Dog Point wines
Dog Point first released wine in 2004. Dog Point Vineyard produces four wines including a stainless steel made sauvignon blanc, plus three barrel fermented wines using natural (wild) yeasts including a sauvignon blanc aged and fermented in older French oak barrels (Section 94), a chardonnay and a pinot noir. With the exception of the stainless steel made sauvignon, all wines are given extended barrel ageing with minimal racking and handling. It's a non-interventionist, natural, hands-off technique that characterizes all their wines.
All fruit is hand-picked from low cropped vines. Wines are made to drink well on release or cellar gracefully for many years. An impeccable attention to detail is expertly partnered with a low interventionist ethos.
A family-owned company, they make regionally distinctive wines with a point of difference.
The people behind Dog Point
After working together at Cloudy Bay and finding they shared the same aspirations, James and Ivan decided to return to a more 'hands-on' approach to winemaking. Using fruit from the 80 hectare Dog Point Vineyard established by Ivan and Margaret, the pair launched the Dog Point label together with wives Wendy and Margaret in February 2004 using fruit from the 2002 vintage.
Now, still totally hands-on the partners are involved from the vineyard to the winery and market place. During their careers, both men have travelled and tasted widely, particularly appreciating Burgundy and the low interventionist approach favoured by many producers there.
This approach has certainly influenced James' and Ivan's approach to winemaking and there is one or two empty Burgundy bottles lining the Dog Point kitchen wall.
Dog Point's wine region Marlborough
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine region comprising 24,000 hectares located in the north eastern corner of New Zealand's South Island bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the East and towering mountain ranges in the hinterlands to the North and South.
A broad alluvial plain stretches from the coastline gradually rising into narrow valleys and gentle hill slopes with favourable northerly aspects.
Perfectly positioned at 41.3 degrees south, there is a superb synergy of climate and soil, with the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the presence of prevailing winds and isolation from continental hot air masses creating a temperate maritime climate, with 2500 sunshine hours and 650mm of rain per annum.
Although blessed with one of the sunniest and driest climates in New Zealand, Marlborough's heat is tempered throughout the summer months by easterly sea breezes with generally a lengthy dry autumn providing ideal conditions for the long slow ripening of grapes and the evolution of a rich array of vibrant fruit flavours.
Dog Point's vineyard
Dog Point is located on the southern side of Marlborough's Wairau Valley at the confluence of the smaller Brancott and Omaka Valleys. Topography and soils varies from silty clay flats to gentle undulating clay slopes with desirable sunny northerly aspects.
The vineyard is neighbour to the first commercially planted vineyard in Marlborough by Montana in 1973. This location is widely considered to be a very desirable area for grape growing in Marlborough. Fruit for the wines is sourced from selected vineyard plantings dating back to the early 1980s. It is a total of 80ha under vines.
These older well-established vines situated on free draining silty clay loams are supplemented with fruit from closely planted hillside vines on soils with a clay loam influence.
Nearly half of the Dog Point Vineyard property is devoted to native bush, wetlands, open spaces, park-like plantings, walking tracks, orchards, vegetable gardens and grazing paddocks. Over the winter months, 2,500 sheep and 25 steers are brought onto the property to keep the grass and weeds down, and to add organic matter to the soil. Beehives dot the landscape, while groves of olive trees and pine nuts compliment the organic vegetable garden.