'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.
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. Other business brought him to the edge of the world, to New Zealand: a land of mountains, fire and ice - geographically the youngest country in the world – situated in the sweet latitudes for winegrowing.
'When I pictured a life among the vines, I didn't immediately think of New Zealand, but New Zealand was wonderful, because we were interested in clean air, green fields and a culture of care for the land. We didn't want to inherit or extend other people's mistakes.'
~ Mary Peabody
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 been named by Decanter magazine as 'one of the 50 most influential people in the world of wine going into the next millennium.' He was in good company alongside Chateau Margaux's Paul Pontallier, Pierre Henry Gagey of Louis Jadot, and Jancis Robinson MW. He'd just become a Master of Wine - the only specialist viticulturist in the world to have the distinction.
You walk into a place and know whether it's going to be a great vineyard.
As some collect antiquities or vintage cars, Steve collected land for vintages. A consultant with a rare instinct, and experience in South Africa and Bordeaux, he received more than 350 parcels of wine annually from all over New Zealand. He saw that some pieces of land came through with distinction every time and he'd 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 his favourite wines – the Bordeaux reds and particularly Syrah. The spectacularly beautiful Tuki Tuki valley had the soil for Chardonnay and would be the ideal home base from which to build a new kind of winery.
Pioneers by nature.
Steve, who always wanted to stretch the boundaries and to whom 'it's nice' would be the ultimate insult about a wine, joined Terry. They 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 was matched to place.
The family business has grown up. Bolstered over the years by input from other singularly talented individuals, the winery – the most technically advanced ever built in New Zealand - is known for uncompromising standards and meticulous craftsmanship.
'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