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Alexandra Vintners – Niche Contract Winemaking

By July 2, 2013No Comments
The Alexandra Vintners winemaking facility was borne out of the receivership of William Hill, one of the pioneers in the district. A number of the growers who had their wines made there banded together to ensure the continuance of their labels by creating a new winemaking facility, which came into operation for the 2011 vintage. Antony Worch, is the man in charge, and in fact the only person there, and he looks after 21 different clients, who bring in anything from 300 kg of grapes to a more substantial 40 tonnes.


Antony Worch – Alexandra Vintners

Coming from Alsace, Antony and his partner Marion arrived in Central Otago in 2005 to make wine at Peregrine and Marion for William Hill, eventually being involved in the contract winemaker role for a number of winegrowers in the area. Despite the receivership, Antony managed to use the William Hill facilities for the 2010 vintage before moving into the new Alexandra Vintners property in Success Street in the industrial area to the north of the town. His first vintage in 2011 was 100 tonnes, and this has grown to 210 tonnes in 2013. The winery is now reaching its capacity as a one man operation.

Antony is very aware of his role as a contract winemaker and his mantra is “to do the best for his clients, making wines that will sell successfully”. Many of his clients have little expertise in winemaking and rely on and trust his work. There are some that have a more direct involvement in specifying vinification techniques and style, and he is very aware of respecting their wishes. Antony’s overriding approach is for elegance with textures and wines that are complementary with food, essentially what he was brought up with and trained to do.

Hayden Johnston and Tarras Vineyards at Alexandra Vintners
On site at Alexandra Vintners was Hayden Johnston of Tarras Vineyards. I’d tasted a 2007 Tarras Vineyard ‘Canyon Vineyard’ Pinot Noir at a tasting of Pinot Noir put on by Wellington star sommelier Stephen Wong back in October in 2010, where I had rated the wine 19.5-/20. He had become a client of Antony’s and he offered some samples of his wines for tasting. Firstly a Tarras ‘Canyon’ Pinot Noir 2009, with about 16% whole cluster, stylishly restrained with savoury secondary aromas and flavours seamlessly entwined, the wine possessing a fresh, lively, racy streak and line. This is beginning to drink very well now.


Hayden Johnston and Antony Worch

Antony then drew a barrel sample of the Tarras Vineyards ‘Canyon’ Pinot Noir 2013, dark and vibrantly purple, this had very attractive, aromatic dark raspberry fruit aromas and a fine, tightly bound palate, very primary in nature, quite elegant in proportion, and possessing a lovely acid line guided by fine-grained tannins. Hayden said the frosts in the growing season reduced his quantities by about one-third, and his blend of clone 777, 5 and 667 fruit missed out on the 115. www.tarrasvineyards.com

It was evident that Hayden had a very good relationship with Antony. And I suspect that Antony’s approachable and affable manner would make it easy for all his clients.  www.alexandravintners.co.nz

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