'We were in a position to do something quite extraordinary for future generations.'
The story of Craggy Range began with the desire to create a legacy. What happened next, surpassed even the expectations of the family who started it.
When Terry Peabody arrived home from a four-week business trip in the fall of 1993 his wife Mary, and daughter Mary-Jeanne, cooked him dinner. The meal was long and leisurely, but not without purpose. Terry wasn't allowed to leave until he had agreed to go into the wine business. The specification was that the business must never be sold. It was to be a family business, an enduring heritage legacy. To recognise this commitment, a trust would be established to ensure the business would prevail for 1000 years.
That night, Terry made a commitment to the most important people in his life, and he intended to honour it. The search for a winery began traditionally enough - in France and America, spreading then to Australia.
The Peabodys have a strong background in the hospitality industry owning both fine dining and bistro restaurants in Australia and North America. For more than a decade from 1986 they owned and managed the Fountain Room in Brisbane, one of Australia's premier fine dining restaurants. Its wine list - local and international - was legendary. With their restaurant hospitality credentials established, the desire for creating a wine business was a natural progression.
But it was a meeting in Paris with Baron Eric Rothschild - of Chateau Lafite renown - that proved to be the defining moment for Mary and Terry. They had a question for the patriarch of the famous French house. If Eric was expanding his empire, where would he establish his new world winery? "New Zealand," Eric answered.
It was a long play, but if Terry and Mary wanted to create a dynasty, an inter-generational wine house, Eric's advice was to look to the southern hemisphere and the new world of wine in New Zealand. And so it was that which brought Terry and Mary to the edge of the world, to Aotearoa: a land of mountains, fire and ice - geographically the youngest country in the world - situated in the sweet latitudes for winegrowing.
Land is the most important thing if you're going to start a winery
Terry had always been impressed with the quality of New Zealand wines and he sensed a new and exciting possibility. In New Zealand he saw potential he hadn't seen elsewhere. The country's exceptional climate, the youth of the wine industry and the pioneering spirit of the people aligned with his own philosophy and desire to cut a different path. His ambition was not merely to buy into an existing vineyard or to emulate the greatest examples of wine styles in the world - it was bolder. He wanted to create new benchmarks with wines that would become internationally known as the New World classics.
We didn't want to inherit or extend other people's mistakes.
An introduction to the best of the best
Fate played its part. An acquaintance introduced Terry to noted Kiwi viticulturist Steve Smith who had just become a Master of Wine - the first specialist viticulturist in the world to achieve this distinction.
You walk into a place and know whether it's going to be a great vineyard.
Terry and Steve looked for land and pinpointed some special places. Gimblett Gravels in the Hawke's Bay on the east coast of New Zealand was an area with the perfect growing conditions for Bordeaux reds and particularly Syrah. The spectacularly beautiful Tukituki valley had the soil for Chardonnay and would be the ideal home base from which to build a new kind of winery. A further search began for a vineyard that could produce a unique expression of the two varieties the world has come to know New Zealand for, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Their tireless search led them to Martinborough and more particularly, a spectactular piece of farmland in Te Muna Road. It offered two distinct terraces, the higher comprising very old, stony clay infused soils perfect for Pinot Noir and the lower terrace of younger stony soils interleaved with limestone - providing an excellent environment for Sauvignon Blanc.
Pioneers by nature.
Terry, together with Steve, made an important decision from the beginning to exclusively pursue the Single Vineyard Philosophy of winemaking – fresh thinking back in 1997. Craggy Range was the first in the Southern Hemisphere to adopt making single vineyard wines from multiple regions of the country. Grape varietals matched to place.
Building the business.
From its inception, Craggy Range has been a family business and it remains so today. The 1,000 year legacy is manifest in the involvement of three generations in Craggy Range.
Mary and Terry's two children, Mary-Jeanne and David are involved in the business, while their other son runs a successful American-inspired restaurant. Now a third generation of Peabodys is working in the business with grandson David Junior in the role of Account Manager based in Singapore.
Ever the itinerant brand ambassadors, Mary and Terry continue to take the Craggy Range message to the world, tasting and listing wines at every hotel they stay in and hosting events and dinners globally.
"This business is a legacy for the family still to come. We have ambitions to grow it further as every business has to grow to be successful. However the mandate for the future will always continue to focus on producing quality wines."
~ Terry Peabody