The Greystone Story
In 2000, the Thomas Family purchased an old sheep farm on the Omihi hills because of its amazing rolling limestone hills and began work to create the Greystone vineyards. From the outset there was one goal; to realise exceptional wines from the unique limestone terroir.
By 2004 with the help of Viticulturist Nick Gill we had planted thirteen blocks across the Omihi slopes. Dom Maxwell became our winemaker and a team was formed in the pursuit of realising the potential of this exceptional site. The north facing limestone hills slope down to clay – the perfect combination for growing wines with minerality and concentration.
In 2007 the first wine was produced from here and over the years Greystone has grown amid accolades and acclaim to be recognised as one of New Zealand’s best wineries. We love this region and with our wines we aim to capture the essence of this site and reflect this in every bottle of Greystone.
Greystone draws its name from the unique limestone conglomerate that we find as the bedrock on which our vine roots grow in. A limestone mix of fossils, sea shells and small pebbles that have been fused together through the seismic movement of North Canterbury. Over time this ancient seabed has been pushed and folded upwards to form the Teviotdale Hills.
Pinot Noir famously loves soils with limestone and thus different clones, aspects and blocks were planted to see what was capable from this bare land. As the soil changes down the slope we’ve also planted Chardonnay and Riesling. Further on the flat we have Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc which thrive in the tough dry clays and gravels of North Canterbury.
Greystone is 100% certified organic with BioGro.
We believe true fine wines are temporal, each vintage a fleeting snapshot of a place in time. We don’t seek to manipulate the final product with additives or flavourings – instead we allow a true interpretation of the soil, vines and season to shine through.
We revel in protecting our land. The many ecological benefits of organic practices include healthy soils, healthy waterways, biodiversity, and a safe place for bees and other beneficial insects. The use of natural products throughout production provides a safe and happy work environment for our dedicated team. We see our commitment to organic winegrowing as a bigger picture collaboration with our plant towards a more stable climate and sustainable ecosystem.
Crop management is done meticulously by hand without herbicides, insecticides or systemic fungicides, using organic methods and regenerative agriculture to proactively promote soil and vine health. It’s a hands-on approach that means being intimately connected to the blocks, walking the rows and being attuned to subtle changes in the soil, vines and grapes. It’s labour intensive, but it’s also how you make truly remarkable wine. For us, it’s a labour we love.
At harvest we handpick the bunches, tasting the grapes and inspecting them for important flavour signifiers like seed ripeness. We find that if you’ve got great grapes, you don’t have to do much to them. We use wild yeast fermentation and bottle unfiltered whenever possible. Bottling unfined and unfiltered reveals more layers and complexity; it’s like listening to your favourite album on vinyl and hearing richer, more nuanced tones. It’s wine for slowing down and savouring.
In early 2014 Greystone began the conversion from conventional to organic viticulture. By 2018, our entire 33-hectare vineyard was certified organic with BioGro New Zealand. In 2021 we began our journey into becoming a fully regenerative and carbon-neutral farm.
Organic winegrowing relies on harnessing biodiversity and natural ecological cycles as an alternative to the use of synthetic and external inputs. It is a hands-on approach that means being intimately connected to the vineyard, walking the rows and being attuned to subtle changes in the soil, vines and grapes. It’s labour intensive, but it’s also how we make truly remarkable wine without jeopardising the health of our environment, our team, or our consumers.
We avoid the use of synthetic chemicals to ensure the health and abundance of microbial flora above and below the soil. Our successful wild fermentations are only possible because of the flourishing yeast populations found in the vineyard.
Vineyards are a monoculture, which means biodiversity struggles exist. To create a more diverse environment, we cultivate “companion plantings” like Phacelia, Buckwheat, Alyssum in the interrows. As well as increasing biodiversity, companion plantings provide an alternate host and attract parasitic wasps which disrupt pests like leaf roll caterpillar, a species that directly causes botrytis in grapes.
To further minimise any harmful environmental effects, we plant and maintain approximately 100-200 native trees every year to increase biodiversity and re-establish endemic vegetation. Native vegetation like Totara, Flax and Cabbage Trees provide habitats for native fauna and disrupt the monoculture environment.
Crop management is done meticulously by hand without herbicides, insecticides or systemic fungicides. Light and air are the most powerful defence that we have in our artillery in the vineyard. We undertake extensive canopy management such as shoot thinning, bunch thinning, shoot positioning and leaf and lateral removal to open canopy and remove any crowding in the fruiting zone. This in turn reduces disease pressure and increases overall wine quality.
Another goal through organic winegrowing is to increase soil nutrients and conserve and recycle organic material created on our vineyard and in our winery. One way in which we achieve this is through our compost. We mix our winery marc (grape skins and seeds) with bark, straw and biodynamic preps. The compost quickly becomes a hotspot for microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. The heap is turned and monitored so that come spring, we are left with dark, rich finished compost that is then spread back onto the vineyard to raise the organic matter in the soil.
Greystone sprays 15 times a year using “natural canopy protectants”. Diseases are controlled with sulphur, seaweed, compost teas and biological fungicides such as Trichoderma.
Water is a precious resource that we use sparingly, if at all. We allow longer irrigation cycles to drive the vine roots deep down into the soil profile.
We talk proudly about our vineyard and terroir but the best way to experience it is first-hand. From exclusive tastings to four-course long lunch, you can’t go wrong with a day at Greystone.