Wairau River: Coming up Roses

26 Nov 2019

The Rose family have a long and proud pioneering history in the Marlborough region with Phil and Chris Rose establishing their vineyards on the banks of the Wairau River in 1978.

Phil Rose in the 1970s
Phil Rose in the 1970s

Phil and Chris Rose were originally growing Lucerne, a perennial flowering plant, for export to Japan. Then the 1970’s oil shock hit made the harvesting and drying of Lucerne uneconomic. The Roses looked to find an alternative use for their land and decided to plant grapes.

Some grapes had been planted in Marlborough, but it was still early days for the wine region. They battled some major objections around the land use, but Phil and Chris finally gained consent and started establishing their vineyards in 1978.

In true pioneering spirit, they began hand planting vines and raising a family. After contract growing grapes for some years, they decided to produce their own wine and in 1991 the Wairau River label was born.

Today, all five Rose children are deeply connected to Marlborough and along with their partners are involved in the family wine business.

Hamish Rose is Wairau River’s viticulturist and is in charge of managing all the family vineyards throughout the seasons.

He has always had an affinity with the land and a love of the outdoors. Planting and nurturing grapes came naturally to him. He works closely with his brother Sam, the winemaker.

Phil, Sam and Hamish Rose
Phil, Sam and Hamish Rose

Sam Rose grew up on the vineyard and spent his formative years following his parents around as they established their vineyards and made their first wines.

The smell and love of wine is in his veins. He graduated with a degree in winemaking from Lincoln University and then worked with some of the best winemakers in the region.

Sam is now responsible for all Wairau River wines working closely with his good friend and talented winemaker Nick Entwistle.

Their Wairau River Gewürztraminer Marlborough 2019 recently won the Champion Gewürztraminer trophy at the NZ Wine of the Year awards.

Sam says, “the 2019 growing season in Marlborough was outstanding.”

Their winning Gewürztraminer comes from in their Rapaura Road vineyard from vines planted in 1998.

He says Marlborough consistently produces high-quality Aromatic wines, “that speak strongly of the people and places they were grown.”

The judges described the winning wine as, “Incredibly intense, pure aromatics of Turkish delight, rose petal and lychee. A fantastic savoury finish with long and lingering flavours. Delicious.”

A fittingly floral winning wine for the Rose Family.

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