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Boutinot heads ‘home’ to New Zealand with Heaphy acquisition

Published:  17 February, 2023

Boutinot Wines, the international producer and distributor based in Manchester, has finalised the purchase of its first-ever wholly-owned vineyard site and estate in New Zealand, Harpers can reveal.

Heaphy has had a long-standing relationship with Boutinot via former owner Greg Day, who acted as the UK-based company’s New Zealand distributor for many years.

As Day gradually retires from the estate he founded, Boutinot will be taking over. The estate, therefore, becomes one of the business’s ‘homes’ – one of four properties around the world which are owned by Boutinot from the soil up.

“By immersing ourselves in this exciting region, the acquisition of Heaphy extends the group’s long-term, strategic desire to ever-improve our wines and augments our portfolio of vineyards and wineries in Domaine Boutinot (Southern Rhône), Wildeberg (South Africa) and Henners (England),” Boutinot commercial director Michael Moriarty said.

“Ownership of Heaphy will deepen our relationships in New Zealand, from our existing grower partners in Marlborough, to our brilliant agency partners throughout this country.”

First planted in the 1970s, Heaphy’s Nelson vineyard is situated on 10 ha of rolling hills of Upper Moutere, above Nelson’s Tasman Bay, where Heaphy’s blocks are amongst the oldest commercial vineyards in New Zealand.

Andy Nicole, Heaphy’s general manager, will be heading up the wine team from March, while the project will be overseen by Eric Monnin, head of Boutinot France.

As much a producer as it is an agent, Boutinot makes wines and collaborates with winemaking teams all over the world.

Its homes, however, form a key part of the portfolio. While relatively small in production, these estates act as both marketing platform for the company’s wider production portfolio, while also allowing the team to dig deeper into regions in which they already have a presence.

With Wildeberg in Franschhoek, product manager Robin Naylor describes how the winemaking is “rooted in practical local truth”, by combining wine made from the Boutinot-owned vines and also local growers.

“Saying that everything must come from within the boundary fence of the farm actually robs you of all this amazing opportunity to work with growers all over the country.

“With Wildeberg, we fell upon this unplanted hillside in Franschhoek that was basically a paddock for horses at the time, owned by an older German couple. It practically made no sense to go there in the first place, but if you stood there and you looked, you just knew we're never going to leave.

“It’s some of the best tasting [of wines] we’ve got as a company anywhere on the planet. It’s an amazing place, right at the southeastern corner of the coastal region.”

All naturally fermented, the wines have garnered attention on the awards circuit in their first few years of release, including a key surprise win in South Africa.

With Heaphy, the vineyards overlook the Tasman Bay and its cool ocean breeze. The Boutinot team will be starting its tenure in 2023 with a small unirrigated block of Riesling made from some of the oldest vines in New Zealand.