An enduring love for the land combined with a belief in ethical farming and a passion for winemaking have drawn two of New Zealand’ most successful wine entrepreneurs back to the industry. Loveblock is the new brand that realises the vision and passion Erica and Kim have to create great New Zealand wine that best reflects the terroir on which the grapes are grown while minimising chemical input. The couple’s previous label was New Zealand’s most successful wine marketing business, sold to Canadian beverage company Vincor in 2003. That label owned no land, preferring to source its grapes from contract growers.
After some time in the wilderness, Erica has found her Loveblock, a treasured and formidable landscape comprising 85 hectares perched atop the hills overlooking Marlborough’s Awatere Valley. In a journey that began in 2004, the duo planted several grape varietals and are being true to their deeply held belief of low intervention farming and land care which enables the wine to reflect its naked or true terroir.
Rhythm of the Land
The quiet yet immoveable and timeless rhythm of the land is integral to the fruits of Loveblock.
“The adage ‘your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness’ rings so true for many a wine producer,” Erica says, “but it has never been truer than for Loveblock.”
It was love at first sight when Erica first viewed Loveblock’s remote and wild terrain and elevated position overlooking the Awatere Valley. “I immediately knew this was the place where I could put down my roots, look at the land holistically, restore balance and create a self-sustaining perma-culture environment while making jolly good wine. This is my Loveblock and my journey, the love affair with land had begun.”
Erica’s philosophy is that the land belongs to the future. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it for only a little while. And so organic farming was a logical step to achieving her vision to provide for the longevity of the land. “It’s a philosophy that demands submission to the rhythm of the land and requires total cooperation with nature to maintain soil fertility,” she says.
Kim too is rising to the challenge of the land.
“As a winemaker, my aim is to deliver to you in the bottle what the grapevine produces. It is not up to me to be so presumptuous as to interpret what the soil says is right,” he says. “Stylistically we are not making wines to a recipe. We are making wines we ourselves want to drink – we look closely at the fruit and see what it is telling us and we keep to that style.”
Loveblock has been forged from a love of the land and a challenge to chase the impossible sites, the improbable blends, the exquisite flavours. “We plant vines in impossible places, make wine that needs to age for years while tying up cash flow,” Erica says. “We may be an accountant’s worst nightmare but we are driven by passion. And dreams,” she adds.
The first Loveblock wines to be released are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, all from the Loveblock Marlborough vineyard, and Pinot Noir from Someone’s Darling Vineyard in Central Otago.