Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, Man O’ War boasts a pristine and beautiful array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and stunning beaches. This rugged and beautiful coastline was “Discovered” in 1769 by Captain James Cook. Today, 10.000 people live on Waihiki Island and 27 wineries are installed there. The land has been under the Spencer family’s stewardship for almost 30 years. They first introduced grapes to Man O’ War in 1993, with the firm belief that world class wines could be produced there.
Man O’ War Vineyards is 100% Estate Grown, encompassing 4,500 acres with 150 acres of vines enhancing its intrinsic beauty. Seventy-six individual hillside blocks are strategically placed with soil types varying from volcanic loam to friable iron rich clay. Due to the slope and aspect of their coastal land, the Spencer family believed that the steep hillsides of Man O’ War could provide optimal exposure and great drainage to produce exceptional wine of power and elegance. In order to identify these sites, they embarked on over a decade of research to assess potential viticultural quality and varietal suitability of various areas using techniques such as soil mapping, weather data collection and plantings of small experimental sites.
As New Zealand’s viticulture is predominantly flat, specialist hillside machinery was not readily available so they travelled to Europe to research planting and operating steep hillside vineyards. From these studies, they identified that thesteep, low lying, north facing clay hillsides are ideal for bordeaux and syrah production and they subsequently planted red varietals down these steep, sheltered clay hillsides. Higher altitude and free draining volcanic soils are best suited for aromatic whites and chardonnay so they planted the white varietals on exposed volcanic hill tops, benefiting from cool sea breezes. Additionally, different sites give different characteristics within the same variety. For example, Dreadnought Syrah: the eastern vineyards give an abundance of fruit flavor and powerful tannins which is balanced out by the western vineyards’ delicate spice and aroma.
The planting program was completed in 2004, each block with its own distinct soil type and microclimate. To ensure the purity of the wine, the vineyards rely on nature’s water supply, they are not irrigated, are hand harvest and farmed 100% sustainably. The wines are not fined (except the whites, with bentonite) and vegan friendly. The first commercial vintage under the Man O’ War brand was in 2006.
Man O’ War “Flagship Range” – Ironclad Bordeaux Blend, Dreadnought Syrah, Valhalla Chardonnay and Gravestone Sauvignon Sémillon – conveys layers of complexity, structure and aging potential. Exiled Pinot Gris and Valkyrie Viognier are available for select vintages. The name of each wine reflects its own unique and inherent nature and its foundation.