2014 Winter Solstice Newsletter – June 2014



It’s a truism to say that wine makers never experience the same vintage conditions twice. After the 2014 vintage we have to say thank goodness for that!


Clod Pinot Noir 20142014 started off brilliantly. A very mild spring led to early flowering and consequently good fruit set. The rest of the season was almost perfect…except, of course, for the massive hailstorm we had on the 3rd of March. After all the hard work we had put in and the great potential of the vintage this was quite devastating.  Fortunately the weather returned to normal after the hail event and the dry days combined with our hard working bees cleaned up most of the damaged bunches. The result was that we picked some excellent fruit, albeit in reduced quantities. We have a small but exceedingly good-looking harvest of Sauvignon Blanc, some lovely Viognier and some very good Pinot Noir. Throughout everything we have had to be very selective. The Abyss Pinot Noir block as usual shows depth, finesse and elegance. Sadly the Petit Manseng did not survive the hail damage. Yet again most of the vineyard has proved resilient to adverse farming conditions. In our mind this is in no small part due to our biodynamic philosophy. The overall health and aura of the vineyard has prevailed!



Winter Solstice is traditionally a time to celebrate and reconnect with friends, family and nature. Here at Churton we embrace this philosophy and choose Winter Solstice to release our new vintage wines. We are pleased to present Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2013Viognier 2013Petit Manseng 2013 and Pinot Noir 2012



Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Chicago

2014-05-29 18.44.01The best, most positive market visit I’ve had in 5 years. Fantastic! What is so pleasing is that people are really understanding the quality and style difference that Churton presents.  

The theme of my tour was to discuss how biodynamics really underlines the Churton terroir and hence the individuality and style of the wines.

Perhaps the one key highlight was a tutored tasting that I gave at the cellars of Berry Brothers and Rudd in St James’s in London. Berry’s is one of the oldest wine merchants in the world and are still highly respected and a leader not just in London but Asia too (We sell through BBR in London, Singapore and Japan).  Jasper Morris MW kindly hosted the evening with me. It was great to have the guiding hand of Jasper during the tasting. Not only have we known each other for a long time, (he could keep me from wandering into too many tangential discussions) but also he has witnessed the establishment and evolution of Churton in New Zealand.  It was a great evening. The wines showed really well and we discussed biodynamics “from bottom to top” including soil microbiology through macro-biology to cosmic and spiritual biology! Something pretty cool that I learnt was that the English philosopher John Locke had described how peasants in the South of France buried cows horns with cow dung in them and then used the contents to enhance their soil.  It just goes to reinforce that much of what Rudolph Steiner suggested in his agriculture lectures in 1924 was based on describing peasant agriculture from earlier times.

I was shown great hospitality and enthusiasm for Churton wherever I went. A very rewarding experience after the travails of a difficult vintage when at times we really wondered what we had done to deserve such a tough year.


Introducing Guillaume Harel  – Churton Market Manager UK/Europe

guillaume photoGuillaume Harel has over 20 years experience in the food and wine trade.

Originally from France, Guillaume spent over 10 years working in London’s finest hotels in food and beverage before he was headhunted to Hong Kong in 2007.

During his time in Hong Kong he quickly rose to the position of General Sales Manager for Altaya Wines, one of the most renowned agency’s in Asia and the distributor for Churton in Hong Kong. 

Guillaume relocated his family back to London at the end of 2013 where he started his own business in wine.  

Guillaume is passionate about bio-dynamicity and has an expert knowledge of wine and sales. Guillaume now represents Churton in the UK where he manages sales and brand development. 

Guillaume can be contacted on email at moc.liamgnull@1lerahiug.



Churton-vineyardWith the winter crop of oats now in and replenishing the soil, the vineyard awaits pruning. This year we have another culturally diverse crew of pruners ready to go. So far we have an Australian a Chilean an Italian and an Israeli, plus Ben and Laura the token Kiwis. It’s always great bringing in people from differing nationalities and makes for some fascinating lunch time discussions. 

The annual Churton compost collection has begun, with Ben and friend Arthur making the most of a quiet time in the vineyard. They have been thinning out some trees along the boundary. These trees (ngaios) will be chipped into small pieces and used as carbon matter for the compost. At night we have been isolating the cattle in the yards with a bed of hay. The idea being that we get a nicely concentrated area of pooey hay, great for the compost. The last thing we now need is a trip to the beach for seaweed collection. This involves hard work, luck from the weather and expert timing to avoid getting stuck by the incoming tide.

The vineyard is looking good and we are sure this year’s compost will be another cracker.


With warm regards as our days get longer; Sam, Mandy, Julie and the Churton team

 Churton Newsletter Winter Solstice 2014





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