Today we are a busy vineyard producing 250,000 bottles of wine a year. We have four wine labels and produce 11 varieties of wine from Sav' and Pinot to sticky dessert wines and celebratory bubbles.
Pic: Taizo Osawa at the Osawa Wines Vineyard February 2012 - The New Zealand Team based in Hawkes Bay
It all started one sunny afternoon in Tokyo when Mr. Osawa, a Japanese wine lover, decided to go travelling with the intention of starting a vineyard and making his own wines. He selected America, Australia and New Zealand as potential areas of interest. A year and many miles later, Mr. Osawa arrived in New Zealand and decided that this is where he would like to make his wine.
New Zealand is well regarded in Japan and is known for purity, adventure and amazing wines. I was all of these aspects that would make the wine appeal to the Japanese public.
Taizo's background is in civil engineering and computers so he sought advice from New Zealand’s wine industry leaders. He was directed to Hawke’s Bay as it is a region that offers an opportunity to grown many different varieties of grapes to award winning standard.
He quickly fell in love with Hawke’s Bay climate and scenery, deciding early on that this was where he would like to make wine. He bought 100 acres from Craggy Range at Maraekakaho, on the western side of Hawke’s Bay. The single estate vineyard sits on a river terrace in the beautiful Mangatahi Valley, alongside the clear waters of the Ngaruroro River. The climate here benefits from low rainfall, hot days and cool nights as it is located between two mountain ranges (Kaweka & Ruahine ranges).
Pic: Misty morning view over our reservoir and the vineyard beyond
In 2006 Rod McDonald (Vidal’s chef wine maker) became New Zealand’s wine maker of the year. Less than a year later, Rod joined Osawa Wines as consultant wine maker with a goal of making New Zealand’s best wine and ultimately some of the world’s best wines.
The once pastoral farmland has now been turned into a stunning vineyard with 8 grape varieties. Our first vines were planted in 2006 and produced their first grapes in 2008. Grapes are grown on free-draining loam deposited over the centuries by the Ngaruroro River. Our aim is to create the highest quality wines through sustainable, responsible practices.
Initially Mr. Osawa started exporting the wine to Japan where he has established business contacts that allowed the wine to be sold in a number of the country’s best restaurants. We are now the third largest exporter of New Zealand wine to Japan. Rod McDonald travelled to Japan to attend the opening of our new cellar door in September 2011.
Pic: Osawa Wines Cellar door in Japan
Pic: Young vines being tended
Production at the vineyard has increased 2 fold since our early days and we are now starting to sell wine in New Zealand. You may already have found some of our award winning wines in your local restaurants.
Gus Lawson & Dr. Jordan consulted regarding location of new vineyard.
Farm bought and first vines planted.
Rod McDonald was appointed as Osawa Wines Consultant Winemaker
First grapes harvested and wine produced (SB & PN).
Second harvest and new wines added to our range (Gew, SB, Char, Cab Merlot, San Rose & Sangiovese). Medals are starting to be won including our first Gold Medal (see attached table).
We became New Zealand’s 3rd largest exporter of wine to Japan after Sileni & Villa Maria. Pinot Gris added to our wine list.
Expansion sees inclusion of local market. New
restaurants are added daily to our list of suppliers and we see
newspaper and magazine articles every month. Mr. Osawa is interviewed for the first time by leading journalists.
Our dessert wines make a grand entrance with gold and trophy wins at
almost every show entered. We bottle our first Methode Traditionelle. The Prestige Chardonnay takes Gold at the Hawkes Bay A&P Awards.