The wines of Gladstone, Wairarapa
Part 4 of my series on New Zealand's Martinborough/Wairarapa region

Christine and David Kernohan

The next stop was Gladstone Vineyard, which is in the Wairarapa subregion of Gladstone.

A word of explanation is needed here. Martinborough is the most well known of the Wairarapa wine regions, but of late, two new subregions have been designated: Gladstone and Masterton. They’re close to Martinborough, with similar terroirs, but aren’t designated Martinborough. I suppose this is accurate, but I think it’s confusing for consumers. It means that the whole region is referred to Wairarapa, which is awfully close to Waipara and could cause confusion. Why can’t the whole region be called Martinborough?

Dakins Road vineyard

Anyway, Gladstone Vineyard, in the Gladstone subregion, was started back in 1986, and a decade later was purchased by Scottish ex-pats Christine and David Kernohan (pictured top). David is an architect who is was formerly an Associate Professor at Wellington’s Victoria University School of Architecture, and still works as a consultant in the field. Christine is the chief winemaker and MD.

The vineyards are planted on what is an ancient river terrace from the nearby Ruamahanga River, with free-draining stony silt loams. The home block is 2.7 hectares, with an adjacent 0.9 hectares next door on the Carters Block, a vineyard that Gladstone sold but now lease back. In 1998 the Kernohans also purchased a 10 hectare block at Dakins Road, which they planted from 2000–2002. In addition, they lease a further 8 hectares.


The vineyards are run sustainably, with the use of cover crops and biological control of pests. For example, buckwheat is grown to attract parasitic wasps that then prey on leaf roll caterpillars. In addition, BioAg sprays are used, which contain a mixture of biodynamic preparations with micronutrients and minerals. Chicory, lucerne and red clover are planted between the rows. 




These were tasted at the vineyard, and more recently in London. Date of tasting is indicated.

Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Very fine, grassy, mineral nose. Fresh and aromatic with some riper notes. The palate is fresh with some green pepper and real minerality. Distinctive, linear style. 90/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Riesling 2010 Gladstone, Wairarapa
They don’t make much of this because it is such a hard sell. Taut, fresh and limey with bright mineral notes. Crisp and intense with some brightness. A lively, steely style. 89/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Viognier 2010 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Fresh, bright and lively with some pear varietal character as well as herby notes. An attractive style with some greenness. 90/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Gris 2009 Gladstone, Wairarapa
This has to be cropped low (2.5–3 kg per vine) to get concentration of flavour. Attractive, rounded and grapey with some lovely herb and pear notes. Still fresh despite the richness. 90/100 (02/10)

Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Nicely textured with some herbal notes. Grapey and lively with good acidity and a fresh finish, with a hint of sweetness. 90/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice 2008 Gladstone, Wairarapa
This is an oaked Sauvignon Blanc. Deep yellow colour. Nice rich wine with smooth texture on the palate as well as some nuttiness. Very stylish, with a smooth, rounded fruity character. 90/100 (02/10)

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice 2009 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Rich, nutty, peachy and lively with some nicely integrated oak. Bold and distinctive with nice richness and intensity. 90/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Rosé 2009 Gladstone, Wairarapa
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Nice salmon pink colour. Dry, quite rich and spicy with a bit of complexity. Rich, broad and balanced. 89/100 (02/10)

Gladstone Vineyard 12000 Miles Pinot Noir 2009 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Nicely aromatic with savoury, spicy notes and cherry fruit. The palate has appealing red berry and cherry fruit with some spiciness and a lively finish, together with subtle green notes. An elegant style. 91/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Lovely cherry and berry fruits here. Textured with some savoury, spicy complexity and a warm finish. Real elegance and good concentration of flavour. 92/100 (05/11)

Gladstone Vineyard Auld Alliance 2006 Gladstone, Wairarapa
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Lovely minerally, chalky, focused red and black fruits nose, with a hint of pepper. The palate is ripe but fresh with lovely spicy notes and gravelly depth. 93/100 (02/10)

Gladstone Vineyard Auld Alliance 2008 Gladstone, Wairarapa
This also has 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Warm, spicy notes on the nose. The palate has ripe sweet, spicy notes with some minerality. Mellow, stylish, linear and elegant. 91/100 (02/10)  

Gladstone Vineyard Auld Alliance 2008 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Lovely open sweet berry fruits with nice depth and a savoury spiciness. Quite an elegant style with good depth. 90/100 (05/11)


Part 1,Martinborough Pinot Noir: a remarkable vertical tasting
Part 2, Dry River
Part 3, Ata Rangi
Part 4, Gladstone Vineyard
Part 5, Martinborough Vineyard
Part 6, Escarpment
Part 7, Palliser Estate

Wines tasted as indicated  
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