The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Martinborough winery launches new name and wines

A newly named Martinborough winery has launched its first vintage to market, introducing three new labels and a collection of nine wines.

Called Luna Estate, the winery operates two vineyards: Luna Eclipse (formerly Alana Estate); and Luna Blue Rock (formerly Murdoch James), which were bought in 2011 and 2014 respectively by New Zealand investor and wine enthusiast Charlie Zheng. Zheng is applying his export experience to growing the international market for the winery, whose name was inspired by the Earth’s moon and his daughter’s name.

Under Zheng’s ownership, the formerly Sauvignon-Blanc-dominated vineyards are in the process of being replanted in Pinot Noir and an additional amount of Chardonnay, with areas already planted in Syrah, Pinot Meunier (used for Rosé), Riesling and Pinot Gris completing the portfolio. Two of the new wine labels reflect their vineyards of origin, while the third – comprising a blend of grapes from both vineyards – is named Luna Estate.

The winery has chosen to plant 85% of its vineyards in Pinot Noir – a decision that winemaker Joel Watson says was based on Martinborough’s reputation as one of the world’s premier Pinot Noir regions.

“Martinborough’s free-draining soils, long dry summers, cool nights and brisk winds provide ideal Pinot Noir grape-growing conditions,” he says. “We’re committed to making the most of this environment, while also exploiting the strengths of our two different vineyards to create wines with exceptional structure, beautifully complex flavours and, most importantly, a sense of place,” says Watson.

“Luna Estate’s most ubiquitous wine is, and will always be, the Luna Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir. A blend of grapes from both vineyards, it’s a delightfully soft, fruity and structured wine that we offer at an affordable price.”

The new wine release coincides with a significant milestone for the Luna Eclipse vineyard: a revamp of its Mediterranean/North African-inspired kitchen; and an extensive landscaping programme that has resulted in a new outdoor courtyard for al-fresco dining. A building adjacent to the winery and cellar door is about to be remodelled as a multi-purpose space – providing both a wine showcase for Luna Estate and an events venue for others in the Martinborough area.

Meanwhile, Luna Eclipse’s natural amphitheatre will continue to be used as a venue for international and local concerts and events, such as the annual Toast Martinborough wine, food and music festival.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Martinborough wine community,” says Zheng. “With Luna Estate’s first wines now released, we look forward to building our presence as a producer of premium wines for the domestic and international markets.”

Zheng’s passion for New Zealand wines has recently extended to the launch of another, export-only brand called Kiwi. Wines marketed under the brand are produced at the Luna Estate winery using grapes sourced from some of New Zealand top winegrowers.

“Through our partnerships with these growers, we’re able to offer a wide range of wines at very competitive prices,” says Zheng. “It’s a great way to showcase the best of New Zealand wine to customers around the world.”