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THIS IS

  • Loveblock was forged from a love affair with a view and a challenge.

    Perched high on the hills overlooking Marlborough's Awatere Valley, our Loveblock is far removed from the agricultural bustle in the valley below. From here you can almost see the end of the planet; the peace lifts you above your troubles. At Loveblock, we are charged with creating the best wine we can to express this extraordinary place and its unique aspect. We follow our deeply held belief in ethical farming which enables the wine to show its true and naked terroir.

    Loveblock is our heart and soul. Welcome.                                            View photos
  • This is Loveblock

    I am Erica, one half of a duo dedicated to Loveblock.

    At first I fell in love with the view. You can almost see the end of the earth from up there, but it is really only the hills behind Wellington on the horizon across the Cook Strait in New Zealand. It is the "quiet" and the feeling of space and air filling your lungs I fully love. The aura of peace and time.

    Back in 2004, this was a wild piece of land, untamed and hidden from the world. We, Kim and I, have both been working in the
  • wine industry for most of our lives and wondered what we could do with this wildness: how would the unique terroir translate to flavours in wine? Can we make wine that is elegant, restrained and complex? Wine that speaks of its place and a season.

    Here in New Zealand land is precious; the economy largely depends on agriculture. As grape growers and wine farmers, we are custodians of this land. We must take care of it, restore soil balance and fertility without commercial fertilisers and chemical protection. We have learnt that the rhythm of the land is immoveable, that we need to submit to it and respect it to get the best from it.
  • We want to make the best wine we can, wine that speaks with the voice of naked terroir. To do this I hired the best winemaker I know.

    Let me show you around Loveblock and introduce you to our people.

Founder & CEO

  • You will notice that Erica goes by her first name around Loveblock, this is to respectfully avoid confusion with the brand that carries her name but with which she is no longer involved.

    "Falling in love with the view was a part of the Loveblock story. As we converted the sheep paddock to plantable land, we took the decision to tackle Organics, a cause that is deeply personal to me.

    "This philosophy was anchored when life forced me to carefully and progressively examine the chemical nature of our immediate environment. I slowly started eliminating additives, colorants and stimulants from my diet and life. The effect was cumulative and I gradually embraced Organics.

  • "We have learnt a lot through this process, most importantly that time dictates and that the rhythm of the seasons and land demands submission. It is really exciting to be back making wine and tasting the flavours. It is the industry I love, it is part of my life."

    Erica, a graduate of the University of Cape Town, started life as an aspirational medical scientist and then progressed to the Pharmaceutical industry where she cut her teeth on business principles. Erica made New Zealand home after marrying Kim. They have two children, Rory and Pia.

    For nine years, Erica and Kim forged a brand and then sold their company. Loveblock heralds their return to the industry.

  • Erica is an active member of the Global Women NZ Advisory Board, an organization which works to expand the influence of women and helps to shape and mentor emerging leaders. She holds a number of directorships, both in the wine industry and in other sectors.

Winemaker

  • You will notice that Kim goes by his first name around Loveblock, this is to respectfully avoid confusion with the brand that carries his name but with which he is no longer involved.

    "I am Erica's husband and the winemaker here at Loveblock. Making wine is really the only thing I have ever done; I've been doing it for almost 30 years now.

    "I am from a farm and for me the challenge of Loveblock was to tame the wild piece of land up there on top of the hill. I thought the flavours we could extract had the potential to be quite special and distinctive, intense yet elegant. I am just lucky enough that we are in a position to
  • experiment, return the balance to the land and make the best wine I can, doing what I love."

    Kim trained at New Zealand's Massey University and specialized in Oenology at South Australia's Roseworthy College. His first jobs included vintages at Arrowfield in NSW's Hunter Valley, Stags Leap Winery in Napa Valley (where he learnt a lot about coffee) and Backsberg Estate in South Africa. He returned to his native New Zealand in 1988 and worked at Coopers Creek Vineyard for some 10 years.

    For the next nine years, Kim and Erica forged a brand and then sold their company. Loveblock heralds their return to the industry.

  • He has won numerous accolades, produced many Spectator Top 100 wines and won trophies and medals for his wines. Trade mark constraints prevent us from listing these.

    Kim loves fishing, hunting and gardening with his constant companion, Spooky, the fat Valhund.

Matt Oliver

  • "I come from generations of farming people so working on the land has always been part of my life.

    "I have come to Loveblock because I have been taken by the sheer challenge of farming and growing grapes here. The hill, the view, the peace. Restoration of soil balance and fertility of this large vineyard is a task I relish, I love feeling the soil between my fingers."

    Matt spent his early working life in a printing factory. But the pull of the outdoors was too strong and after 14 years he enrolled at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Matt completed a degree in Viticulture and Oenology, specializing in Soil Science and Plant Physiology.
  • After short stints with Villa Maria and Grove Mill, he was appointed as vineyard manager at Huia and embarked on an intense learning curve in wine and organic farming.

    He lives in Blenheim with his partner and daughters.

Board of Directors

  • Chair: Erica Crawford
    Loveblock Vintners Ltd. Loveblock Farms Ltd

    Director: Kim Crawford
    Loveblock Vintners Ltd. Loveblock Farms Ltd

    Director: Ross Flowerday
    Loveblock Farms Ltd

Farming Practice

  • New Zealand is a small country in the South Pacific. It consists of two larger islands and has a temperate, maritime climate. It has an abundance of natural resources and a predominantly unpolluted environment.

    At the heart of our environmental practice and ethical farming is the "triple bottom line" concept: (Profit People Place) which directs our business and balance sheet, human resources and the overall health of those people in the business as well as the land and farming methods.

    At Loveblock, we have a deeply held belief that we are custodians of our land. We farm it and grow grapes in accordance with Organic Certification standards, Sustainable Winegrowing NZ principles and incorporate some Biodynamic practices.

    The following describes farming methods used in grape growing in NZ and at Loveblock.

Sustainable Winegrowing

  • Sustainability is relative and can mean different things to different people in different places. NZ Winegrowers has adopted a unified Sustainable Winegrowing programme (SWNZ), a pioneering set of industry standards. Ninety five per cent of New Zealand vineyards are now SWNZ accredited.

    The standard provides a framework for companies to continually work to improve all aspects of performance in terms of environmental, economic and social aspects of their businesses.

    While some chemicals are used under this regime, they are limited to the minimum and applied to specific Loveblock blocks.

    Loveblock's Pinot Noir vineyard in Central Otago is SWNZ accredited.

    See www.nzwine.com/swnz

Organic Winegrowing

  • Organic practitioners seek cooperation with nature and rely on an understanding of the ecological processes. The basis of organic farming is rich, robust, fertile soil and healthy, balanced vines through proactive management of plant, microbial and insect biodiversity. Organics encourages the use of diverse plantings and insect life, but permits only naturally derived plant protection products.

    Simplistically speaking, the use of synthetic chemical products (soluble fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides) is prohibited.

    For instance, natural compost, cover crops and livestock are used to enhance soil health. A resident population of beneficial insects is established to control pests and weed growth is managed mechanically
  • by undervine cultivation or mowing. On a deeper level, an organic farm demands a greater level of commitment from its farmers.

    Financial commitment is often greater and returns less. Skilled people are needed to do the vineyard work to higher standards. While the demands are higher, in return the land rewards the farmer's dedication with greater quality and longevity.

    Our Loveblock Farm, the anchor Estate Vineyard in Marlborough's Awatere Valley, is certified organic by BioGro New Zealand. We incorporate methods that are centuries old such as composting to promote biodiversity and build soil, but we draw from modern technology and equipment to make the vineyards more carbon efficient.

Biodynamic

  • This is the highest form of organics. It uses a holistic approach to land stewardship that focuses on a healthy, balanced environment around the vineyard or farm. Unlike conventional agriculture, the farm is viewed as a whole. Each aspect of the farm is inextricably linked to all the others. Biodynamics links plants, animals and people to the wider ecosystem and beyond to the rhythms of the cosmos.

    It encourages biodiversity (as for organics) and employs a "closed nutrient system" where all organic waste created on the farm is recycled back into the land.

    Special preparations are used to bring the plant, animal and human environs into a balanced state of life. Biodynamics demand an intimate
  • relationship with the land, allowing "terroir" to show its naked face to give full and true expression of the uniqueness of Loveblock.

    At Loveblock, we employ Biodynamic practice including Preparation 500 & 501, BD compost, cowpat pit fertilizer, and where possible, time our operations to the Biodynamic calendar.

Vineyards

  • Marlborough: Loveblock Farm

    Loveblock Farm is our anchor vineyard, the one that stole our hearts.

    It has two distinct parts: the Hillside and Woolshed.
                                                                                                           View photos

    Hillside

    This 180 acre vineyard is perched on top of the hills overlooking the Awatere Valley, where we succumbed to the view. We bought a bare paddock and after some earth works, the land lay dormant for three years.
  • The Hillside is ideal for three reasons:

       1)  The northerly aspect (providing the same sun radiation advantages as a southern aspect in the northern hemisphere)

       2)  The wind helps to keep the bug population and disease at bay

       3)  Unlike the valleys, the soil on the hillside is non-glacial in origin and of a consistent nature (Redwood Pass soil). This assists with even ripening of the fruit.
  • The soil has high levels of clay giving greater moisture retention which is essential in the harsh natural environment of this vineyard.

    The site is perfect for growing premium aromatic white varietals. Due to the strong winds, the vine growth is slow and we tend to get very small berries giving high aromatic concentration in the wine.

    The main vineyard area produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris predominantly, as well as interesting varietals we love and want to experiment with such as Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc and of course, Riesling.
  • Woolshed & Triangle

    The Woolshed (Sauvignon Blanc 27 acres) and Triangle (Pinot Gris 4 acres) are at the bottom of the hill, tucked in next to the old manor house. The soil is typical of the "Valleys" i.e. silt over stone, particularly ideal for Sauvignon Blanc. It was planted in 2003 and the conversion to organics completed in 2012.

    Our aim is to make wines that are elegant and restrained, expressing the terroir of the unique piece of land they are grown on.

    Certified Organic: BioGro New Zealand
  • Central Otago: Someone's Darling

    Ringed by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, Central Otago is one of the world's most spectacular settings for vineyards. It is one of the hottest, coldest and driest regions in New Zealand. The climate and unique terroir combined make this area one of the best for producing premium Pinot Noir.

    In 2008, we bought a small patch (20 acres) of paddock on the Bendigo Loop Road in Central Otago. Bendigo is the warmest of the Central Otago winegrowing areas and our little vineyard is the warmest one in Bendigo. ensuring consistent ripening year on year. This vineyard is dedicated solely to Pinot Noir.
  • The soil is free-draining sand over schist. Due to its Southern latitude the days are long – sometimes up to 18 hours of daylight during the summer months. The hottest part of the day is usually around 4pm, so the rows are planted and oriented to take full advantage of these conditions.

    A variety of clones were selected for this site to deliver a wide range of flavours in the wine and to produce elegant, yet complex and clean fruit-driven wines.
  • Organic vineyard management principles will be implemented by 2014 in accordance with Loveblock philosophy. We named the block "Someone's Darling" as legend holds the following: in the mid-1800s, the farmer who owned the land found the body of a young man on the property. He buried him and for the lack of name, identity or kin, he simply engraved on the coarse wooden cross "Someone's Darling".

    This vineyard is Sustainable Winegrowing (SWNZ) accredited.

Winemaking

  • Grapes harvested from organically grown vines vary significantly from those harvested from conventionally or SWNZ grown vines. Organic vines compete with grasses for minerals and water because weeds and grasses are not killed using chemical herbicides. Vigour is naturally curbed, plants are less active at harvest time and therefore deliver lower yields and around two weeks later than conventionally grown grapes.

    With Sauvignon Blanc for instance, the flavour profile at harvest is less pungent for various reasons.

    Once harvested and in the winery, Organic Certification directs a low intervention regime that rejects using certain compounds routinely used in winemaking. Only organically certified products can be used, including yeasts and fining products.
  • Additionally, fewer yeasts are admissible and sulphur levels (preservative) cannot exceed 100mg/L. Sulphur is used routinely in conventional winemaking as well as SWNZ. In the case of Sauvignon, the addition of sulphur at the harvester under these regimes captures and enhances the aromatics and protects the grapes from the trauma of the picking.

    With limited yeasts available to capture a wider flavour spectrum and a lot of fining agents out of bounds, the organic winemakers' toolbox is a lot more limited. In all cases, organic wine is a pure expression of the vineyard site and the hand print of the winemaker is much smaller. Winemakers have to be more careful, the flavours are more fragile and the thread of balance striven for in the vineyard needs to be retained.
    The wines are processed in a small Organically Certified winery, developing at their own pace.

Wine

The saying "your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness" rings so true for many a wine producer. We plant vines in impossible places, make wine that needs to age for years while tying up cash flow. We are the accountant's worst nightmare, driven by passion and dreams.

And yet, if we don't chase the impossible sites, the improbable blends, the exquisite flavours then nothing will change.

We strive for the vintage and place to speak in the fruit flavour. We strive to make elegant and constrained wines in the context of these factors. Good wine.

Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand's signature varietal tends to be bold and big. We are interested in texture and mouth-feel, rather than enhanced aromatics. To achieve this, a small portion of the wine goes through natural and malolactic fermentation, cutting the sharp edge off the palate.

The grapes are from the Loveblock vineyard, consisting of two distinctly different soil types (see Vineyards) and allowing a blend of flavours.

We want to make a more constrained wine, the unique aspect of the vineyard allows for minerality and a broad spectrum of flavours.

Pinot Gris

Like its red counterpart, Pinot Gris is a varietal with delicate flavours, but unlike Pinot Noir, it tends to crop heavily. We manage the canopy and the crop carefully to manage vine balance and to get the desired flavours. Five clones have been selected for their various flavours and vine characteristics.

We seek structure for the delicate flavours of Pinot Gris, together with texture and mouth feel. We like to make (technically)dry wine, giving it a bit of time in bottle before release

Riesling

"This is the big love, the death wine and the daily go-to wine" says Erica.

Riesling lends itself to a variety of styles and a wonderful range of flavours. The soil on the hillside part of the Loveblock vineyard gifts lovely minerality and flint. The wine is principaly made in a bone dry style, laced with lemon and honey and the long crisp acidity of the finish.

The devolpment of this style from Marlborough is particularly interesting, it shows a little more of itself at every check, simply ending in "layers of joy".

Gewurztraminer

The seductive flavours of Gewurztraminer are so hard to capture and every vineyard and winemaker has his own signature. Ripe orange, lychee, rose petals and acid gives a well structured wine which will improve tremendously with age.

Pinot Noir Central Otago

Pinot Noir has been called all sorts of names due to its maddeningly fickle nature but when everything comes together, it is said to be juice from heaven. Our Loveblock vineyard in Central Otago is in the warmer area of this extreme grape growing region and tends to have more robust flavours. The five clones planted here each contribute to the spectrum of perfume and flavour, giving the vibrant, fruit driven profile we seek. We pay extra attention to make sure the wine is not over extracted or over oaked.

and back to the start...