Mt. Beautiful


Harvest 2018 is on the horizon!

The 2018 harvest sits on the horizon, maybe only a month away. Our winery and vineyard teams are readying themselves for what is the most important event of the year both inside the winery and out in the vineyard. 

Veraison Pinot Noir North Canterbury

Earlier this month our Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy, shared this photo that shows veraison happening in our Pinot Noir vineyard blocks.  Veraison is a French term that means the grapes are changing color, and this indicates the onset of ripening.

As the grapes ripen, the risk of animals eating them (and thus destroying the crop) increases drastically. In some countries, such as South Africa, it’s the baboons you have to watch out for. In Tuscany, it’s the wild boar. But all across the world, birds are unanimously a threat to vineyard crops.

We mitigate damage made by birds a couple of  different ways. In addition to having dedicated team members tirelessly ride quad bikes up and down the rows of vines, honking their horns to scare off birds, we also employ the use of technology.

Last year we invested in a powerful (and costly) vineyard netting machine, which can cover four rows of vines at a time. This proved to not only be a huge time saver, but also great insurance in preserving our crop from the threat of birds.  

Turns out that the net doesn’t keep ALL the critters out, as indicated by the photo below.

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It seems hardly feasible that this image was caught to begin with. Here's a statement from our Vineyard Manager about this frolicking furry fellow:

"One of the guys managed to take this photo of a sneaky critter hiding under the nets keeping guard.”

In closing, here’s a photo of our Pinot Noir posted by Erin, our Business Development and Operations Manager, with this caption:

"Not long now......🍇”

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Our Sheep go for a "Dip"

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Our vineyard and winery crews are ramping up for harvest, but on our Caverhill Farm (960 hectares) Hamish our Farm Manager, and his team are taking our Corriedale sheep in for a "dip." The fungicide / insecticide solution the sheep are showered in helps protect them against infestation by flies and parasites. It's a vital step taken to protect the sheep and their wool prior to shearing.

Riesling Filtration

Mt Beautiful Winery Riesling Filtration

Here is a photo of our plate and frame filter equipment, shared by Assistant Winemaker Ben Weaver, while filtering our Riesling wine.

Filtration is one of two common treatments that help finish or polish a wine. Another treatment (that comes before filtering) is fining, which has the potential of changing the phenolics in the wine.

Both treatments occur just prior to bottling and it is 
our Winemaker and Assistant Winemaker who make the call on which course of action they'll take which each wine. 

2017 Benicia Fashion Runway

2017 Benicia Fashion Runway

For the second year, Mt. Beautiful Winery has been a wine sponsor for the Benicia Fashion Runway in downtown Benicia, California. Our wines were poured during Saturday's festivities for attendees of the event. 

A portion of the proceeds benefit the Soroptimist International of Benicia's Women's Resource and Safe House. 

About the event: 
"An ensemble of four designers from the Lifetime series “Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars  will be presenting their ready to wear collections on the catwalk during Benicia’s Fashion Runway, held September 29-30, 2017. They will be joined by several models that appeared on America’s Next Top Model including Ava Capra who appeared on Cycle 22. Ava will serve as the host for the evening and will walk the runway for each designer."

And so it begins - the start of the 2018 vintage!

Mt Beautiful Winery Bud Break

Today Garrick, our Vineyard Manager, reported: "As we are finishing the last of our pruning some of our early varieties are getting ready to swing into action!" And so it begins, another fabulous vintage! 

An Update on the 2017 Blends

Erin And Robert Barrel Room Pouring Wine

The 2017 harvest wrapped up at the end of April, and now we mostly wait and see what this year’s vintage expresses. We asked Ben Weaver, our Assistant Winemaker, to comment on each varietal.

“As a general update the wines are looking really good. Chardonnay was 50% barrel fermented and remains in barrel on lees developing texture. 50% is also going through malolactic ferment which softens acids as well as brings complexity to the wine; subtle buttery and oak flavours. It’s looking really good!

Pinot Noir is all in barrel going through natural malolactic ferment. This wine will remain in barrel for roughly 12 months which allows time for the tannins to soften and become more integrated. We have a 20% new oak regime so the wine also needs the 12 months for the oak tannin and flavour to become more integrated and rounded.

Pinot Gris and Riesling are both bedded down developing texture. Our Riesling is roughly 18g residual sugar; sweeter than normal due to early picking and high acidity, and a wine with longevity on its side.

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Our Sauvignon Blanc is all bedded down as well and of very good quality. It is currently sitting on lees developing texture. Some of the very last Sauvignon Blanc was handpicked this year (woohoo!). This has gone to barrel and is looking fantastic! It has body and fruit in abundance as well as being complex with fantastic length. We will definitely be looking to repeat this in our Sauvignon Blanc programme in years to come.”

Laying the Groundwork for the 2018 Vintage

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photo: Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy

It seems like just yesterday that the vineyard was covered in lush green vines as far as the eye could see. Now, it lies dormant in the middle of New Zealand's winter. We have however begun one of the most arduous, careful and resultantly most expensive activities that takes place in the vineyard each year. It lays the groundwork for the next vintage's success ... and that activity is pruning!

On the Mt. Beautiful Vineyard we employ two primary forms of pruning; cane and spur. Click here to read more about these in a previous blog post we published.

Our Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy shared a couple photos taken recently and notes "We have started pruning the Sauvignon Blanc. You are looking at a two cane vine that is halfway through been pruned. We have removed all last season's foliage and are ready to tie down the beginning of 2018 foliage. Plus here's a picture of the awesome sunrise we had yesterday."

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photo: Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy

New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival 2017


For the past couple years we've enjoyed participating in the New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival, and 2017 was no exception. 

This was the festival's fifth anniversary that showcased wines from some of New Zealand’s foremost boutique wine producers. The event venue was Auckland's stunning Imperial Buildings located downtown; built between 1886 and 1911, reflecting "a rich mix of heritage spaces and building fabric in downtown Auckland."  

The event not only offered the opportunity to meet the winemakers themselves, but the opportunity for guests to be privy to stimulating discussions lead by some of New Zealand's most influential wine commentators.

Erin Harrison, our New Zealand Business Development and Operations Manager, had a great time introducing our wines to those unfamiliar and sharing new vintages with our existing fan base.

If you're a wine lover and find yourself in Auckland during the month of June, make sure there's time on your agenda to attend this fabulous festival!

Mt. Beautiful Winery's 2017 Harvest Recap

The Mt. Beautiful 2017 grape harvest wrapped up at the end of April. Here's a little recap including photos as well as insights from our Winemaker Sam Weaver, Assistant Winemaker Ben Weaver and Vineyard Manager Garrick Guy.

Grapes In Bin Pint Noir

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes On Vine

In total we harvested over 430 tonness of grapes; the large majority being Sauvignon Blanc (313T) and Pinot Noir (64T) with lesser quantities of Riesling (12T), Pinot Gris (22T) and Chardonnay (20T).

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Winemaker Sam Weaver noted “Though it was a challenging vintage my view is that North Canterbury and in particular Mt. Beautiful missed the worst of the weather events. The result is that we harvested some very good fruit and there will be some very good wines from the vintage."

Pinot Noir Hand Harvest Mt Beautiful Winery
** Pinot Noir grapes being hand harvested.

Pinot Noir Grapes On Vine
** Pinot Noir grapes on the vine.

Sam continues " As you are aware the weather conditions during the growing season were cool which meant that ripening was late in comparison to the last two years. Towards the end of harvest, however, we picked some excellent fruit across most varieties. In some respects that later picked fruit was better than some fruit picked in 2016.

We started harvest on 31st of March with Pinot Noir and concluded harvest with Pinot Gris on the 28th of April. The most challenging variety this year for Mt. Beautiful was Riesling which we picked relatively early due to disease pressure. Nevertheless the resulting wine will be very drinkable.

We picked all blocks on the vineyard. Though there were stresses and anxieties during the vintage we came through remarkably well. Yields in Pinot Noir were significantly down but in all other varietals they were near normal."

Ben Weaver adds "The more you work in the same place the more you understand the quirks and can iron them out. It also means when you have mechanical break downs you know how to get around it and find alternatives a lot quicker. As was the case this year. The vintage crew was great. A very strong French contingent as well as Maura from the US. All very hard working and enthusiastic. Vintage is incredible hard work and long hours. It takes a special person to keep going and have a fun time doing it. They were all fantastic."

Mt. Beautiful had some firsts this season. For one, this was our first vintage with our new Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy! We also harvested our Marle Block of Pinot Noir (planted 2013) for the first time, located east of our main vineyard and planted on a north facing slope.

Garrick comments "This block has the opportunity to bring some great flavours and complexity to our already great Mt. beautiful Pinot Noir blend.”

And lastly earlier this year we purchased a powerful new vineyard netting machine which can cover four rows of vines at a time. This proved to not only be a huge time saver but also great insurance in preserving our crop from the threat of birds. 

Vineyard Netting Mt Beautiful Winery

Keep scrolling to view additional photos of the 2017 harvest with captions. More photos can be viewed in our "Vintage 2017" album here.

Tractor With Grapes Riesling Night Pick
** Mt. Beautiful's first night pick by hand.

Night Time Grapes Arriving To Winery
** Riesling tractored from the vineyard to winery in the evening.

Sorting Table White Grapes
** CEO Robert Watkins and Director of Viticulture Fin Grieve sorting grapes

Maura Marian And Marguax
** Harvest Interns Margaux and Marian (France) and Maura (US)

Francois Mt Beautiful Harvest Intern
** Harvest Intern Francois (France)

Garrick Guy Vineyard Manager Of Mt Beautiful Winery
** Mt. Beautiful's Vineyard Manager, Garrick Guy, standing in one place long enough for this photo.

Vineyard Manager Fin In Mland Rover
** Director of Viticulture, Fin Grieve ready to roll!

Robert Watkins Chardonnay Tanks
** CEO Robert Watkins getting the up-high view of the new Chardonnay tanks.

Chardonnay Tank Installation
** New Chardonnay tanks delivered and installed just in time for harvest!

Robert Fin Sam Discussing Picking Schedule
** Fin, Sam and Robert discussing the picking schedule block by block.

Pinot Noir Grape Harvest From Machine
**Pinot Noir, normally hand harvested at Mt. Beautiful, was machine harvested specifically for the creation of our rosé wine.

Erin And Murphy In Side By Side
** Business Development Manager Erin Harrison taking furry friend Murphy for a ride through the vineyard to check up on things.

Doggy Break
** Erin's dog Murphy and Garrick's dog Base having some fun!

Close Up Hands On Sorting Table Pinot Noir Grapes
** Sorting Pinot Noir grapes.

Mt. Beautiful Gets Dirty at BDR's 4th Annual Fundraiser!

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Mt. Beautiful’s CEO Robert Watkins believes that when his team members dovetail their personal interests with opportunities to share Mt. Beautiful wines, it’s a “win” for everyone and brings life to the brand.

Motorcycling is one of Robert’s many interests dating back to his teenage years when he'd catch trails between friends’ houses on his Yamaha YZ250 or traverse logging roads and train tracks in Colden, New York.

He eventually moved into riding road bikes in the D.C. area until the mid-90s and after a break motorcycling found him again in 2012. He's since enjoyed exploring roads around the North Bay and Tahoe regions of California on his Triumph Tiger, and just recently acquired a Kawasaki KLR650 for on/off road adventures.

With a growing interest in dual sport riding, it was a no brainer to seize the opportunity to sponsor Seattle based Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR).

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BDR is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel. They work with land managers, state tourism departments and rural communities to keep backcountry roads accessible to motorcyclists.

Its organizers and contingent of members consist of dual sport and outdoors enthusiasts who are passionate about BDR's mission. Many of its supporters are active players in the motorcycle industry and represent familiar brands.

Some examples include CEO Paul Guillen of Touratech-USA, founder Eric Hougen of Wolfman Luggage and founders Jeff Anderson and Curtis Cummings of Great Southwest Moto Adventures to name a few.

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They also receive support outside the motorcycle industry from individuals who have identified ways they can positively contribute on some level.  One example is the support BDR receives in regards to its branding and marketing from Tim James, the throttle happy founder of a long standing creative agency called James Howard based in Clifton, New Jersey.

Robert identified the opportunity to share a sensory experience with BDR supporters; tasty estate grown wines from New Zealand! In addition to offering a year-round discount for BDR supporters on direct wine purchases from its website, Mt. Beautiful was the exclusive wine sponsor for the Backcountry Discovery Routes’ fourth annual fundraiser held in the Mojave Desert this May.

Needless to say the support was well received and Mt. Beautiful's wines brought a flavorful element to the weekend (after helmets were hung up).

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The event kicked off on a Thursday evening at the colorful Stagecoach Ranch Inn in Yucca Arizona. Approximately 47 BDR supporters and their adventure bikes arrived to the ranch and became fast friends while breaking bread, enjoying beverages and engaging in discussions about which off road tracks to explore in the coming days and how they can better band together in supporting the BDR mission.

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Mt. Beautiful’s Marketing Manager, Suzanna Mannion, shares Robert’s passion for dual sport riding and was eager to be included in BDR’s annual fundraiser event. Both having not ridden much dirt in recent times opted for the easier ride routes which offered plenty of beautiful desert vistas along the way (and a very challenging sand crossing).

We're pleased to report that the journey was uneventful and everyone came back in one piece with big smiles and new friendships.

To learn more about BDR's mission and how you can support them visit their website here. View more photos from this event here.

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Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2017

This year we eagerly jumped on the invite to participate in Pebble Beaach Food & Wine's 10th Anniversary event. Our team had a blast sharing tastes of our wines from North Canterbury, New Zealand.

Pebble Beach Food Wine

Althoguh it was a tight squeeze at our pouring station, we shared our entire portfolio including our all-new 2016 Mt. Beautiful Rose, Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir .

Suzanna Mannion And Tiffany Tonnerre Of Mt Beautiful Winery Pebble Beach Food Wine
(Marketing Manager Suzanna Mannion and Western US Sales Manager Tiffany Tonnerre)

Pebble Beach Food Wine Auction Lot Riesling Vertical
(7 bottle vertical of Mt. Beautiful Riesling)

Pebble Beach Food And Wine Robert Watkins And Tiffany Tonnerre
(Western US Sales Manager Tiffany Tonnerre and CEO Robert Watkins)

Greg and Marleen Burch of the "Flavor is Everything" wine radio show were live streaming and included us in their line-up of interviews. Greg interviews Mt. Beautiful Marketing Manager Suzanna Mannion roughly 3.5 minutes from the end of the embedded video link below.

Kevin and Dee Armstead of Destination 831 also stopped by to learn more about Mt. Beautiful. Check out this interview with CEO Robert Watkins and Host Joy Anderson.


Tiffany Tonnerre Joins the Mt. Beautiful Team!

Meet Tiffany Tonnerre

Meet Tiffany Tonnerre, our Western US Sales Manager!

Effective March 27, 2017, Tonnerre will manage and increase Mt. Beautiful’s expansive growth throughout the Western United States.

Tonnerre possesses over 20 years’ combined experience in the food and beverage industry. Most recently she was the Northern California Key Accounts Manager for Henry Wine Group.

Prior roles in the wine industry include serving as the Northwest Regional Manager for Champagne Laurent-Perrier for over 10 years, as well serving as a Fine Wine Key Account Specialist with Southern Wine & Spirits.

“We are very excited to welcome Tiffany to the Mt. Beautiful team,” says Robert Watkins, CEO of Mt Beautiful, Teece Family Vineyards and Farms.

“Given our exponential growth this past year, I look forward to Tiffany’s contributions managing and enriching our distributor relationships throughout the Western United States.

Tiffany is a well-respected professional in the industry and possesses a breadth of sales experience at many levels that will serve Mt. Beautiful well in the market place.”

 Contact Tiffany Tonnerre directly at

Be a good bugger!

 Support Cheviot Be A Good Bugger

Our local community of Cheviot has come together to develop this campaign to support local businesses that are hurting after the closure of State Highway 1 North of Kaikoura.

"Have you ever thought to yourself “Am I a GOOD BUGGER?”

Well now you have a chance to be a GOOD BUGGER by supporting Cheviot. Our little town of Cheviot is hurting from the closure of State Highway 1 North of Kaikoura. Businesses that rely on the traffic and tourism the State Highway 1 brings are feeling the pinch.

We’ve had a lot of people and businesses across NZ ask “How can we help?” So we’ve put together two fantastic ways that you can be a GOOD BUGGER.

1. Purchase one of our GOOD BUGGER hampers full of delicious products made with love in Cheviot.

2. Visit Cheviot in the month of February and go in the draw to win one of four $500 hampers of awesome Cheviot made products.

All entries also go in the draw to win Air NZ flights and Heritage Hotels accommodation."

Interested in participating? Click on one of the following fliers to learn more.

Be a Good Buggar           Support Cheviot, New Zealand

Mt. Beautiful Raises Spirits of Earthquake Victims

Australian News Earthquake

Watch this short video on 7NEWS 'til the end and you can see how Mt. Beautiful Winery helped raise the spirits of this international group of young tourists who had been on the "Kiwi Experience" bus tour when they became stranded in Kaikoura due to last week's quake.

They were evacuated via helicopter to Cheviot and the local community prepared food and hot drinks for them. Erin offered glasses of Mt. Beautiful wine, which was very well received. From there the tourists traveled to Christchurch by bus.

Ex-All Blacks' Tony Brown Visits Our Tasting Room!

Tony Brown All Blacks

(Tony Brown; in light blue shirt cradling a bottle of Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir)

Last week, New Zealand's ex-All Black's rugby player Tony Brown visited our Tasting Room in Cheviot. (He's a bit of a big deal in NZ)

Tony is now Head Coach of the provincial rugby team, the Otago Highlanders who won the Super Rugby competition last year. Super Rugby is the international tournament that runs for 5 months between NZ, Australia and South Africa. This year there was also a team from Japan and Argentina included.

Tony and other management and coaches from the Otago Highlanders were travelling from Dunedin (where they are based) to Nelson, and wanted something fun to do on the way.

They were hosted by Juliette and had such a good time they ended up staying for a few hours, trying some older vintages along with a few platters. They were incredibly interested in learning as much as they could about winemaking and we enjoyed imparting all our knowledge to them!

Frost Protection in Our Vineyard

Kaikoura Helicopters 

During the spring time, temperatures can dip quite low during evenings and put our vines at risk of the damaging effects of frost.

There's a variety of means to fight against frost damage in the vineyard including the use of wind machines, sprinklers, hot air burners and helicopters.

The use of helicopters is one of the most expensive and most effective methods. Their large blades help circulate the air and push warm air down towards the ground. Sometimes they fly around for hours doing just that.

If our Vineyard Manager thinks there might be frost the coming morning, he calls in these choppers from Kaikoura. They are parked at the vineyard and the pilots stay in Cheviot for the night "on call."

If the frost alarms go off, Fin calls the pilots who arrive within 10 minutes to fly the helicopters and start the fight against frost!

Bud Break In Our Vineyard

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Here in the US we are officially in the fall season however in New Zealand, spring is on the horizon. In fact we just received word of bud break in our Chardonnay blocks this morning. The 2017 vintage is already underway!