Johanneshof's Underground Cellar
Edel and Warwick's adoration for Europe’s century old wine culture led the pair to establish New Zealand’s first underground rock cellar at Johanneshof.
Thirty years ago they decided to take the risk to go where no-one had gone before in New Zealand and pioneer an underground wine cellar excavated out of solid rock underneath their steep 'Maybern Vineyard'.
In 1993 they engaged coal miners form the South Island's West Coast to blast 50 meters into solid sandstone using dynamite and gelignite. 300 tonnes of rock were excavated in 44 long days. Seven storeys deep at its deepest point the cellar is very much a working cellar.
With its constant and cool temperature of 12 degrees Celsius all year round, the dark environment and a high humidity the cellar provides the perfect conditions for the wines' development and maturation. Here Johanneshof's wines mature in French Barriques and German oak barrels. The Johanneshof Methode Traditionnelle bottles rest on riddling racks from Champagne and get turned by hand every day before being 'disgorged' in the winery 20m above.
(N.B. disgorgement is the term for removing the yeast from the bottle.)
A separate ten meter chamber at the very end of the cellar provides a perfect home for the two winemakers' extensive personal wine library of some 2000 wines, aptly called 'Schatzkammer' (Treasure Trove).
Johanneshof's unique cellar has created a great interest from wine lovers from around the world to experience a truly magical wine experience. Tours of the underground cellar are available by appointment, please contact us to arrange.
"The underground rock cellar was the first to be built in New Zealand, in 1993, and covers a total length of 50 metres. It was tunnelled into solid sandstone and is 20 metres underground. Visiting this subterranean cellar is like stepping into the old world of winemaking. Advance bookings are essential." - Cuisine Wine New Zealand
Johanneshof's Maybern Vineyard
Johanneshof Cellars sits nestled in the quiet Koromiko Valley, between the towns of Blenheim and Picton, in New Zealand's largest wine region - Marlborough. The estate vineyard "Maybern" stretches up behind the Johanneshof winery, on a 30 degree slope, overlooking the winery and cellar below.
Maybern is Marlborough's first steep hillside vineyard, established by Warwick as a teenager in 1977, just four years after the first commercial vineyards were planted in Marlborough.
First planted to Riesling and different varieties, Maybern vineyard is now solely planted to various clones of Pinot Noir for red wine, rose and sparkling wine.
Maybern is the only vineyard in Marlborough to have Kenepuru soils over a bedrock of schist and iron-rich sandstone. It’s the unique nature of this close planted, non-irrigated, steep sloping vineyard, combined with Edel and Warwick's hands-on and meticulous approach to wine making which gives Johanneshof wines' such individual character and complexity.
Warwick and Edel make all wines on site combining the traditions of the art of wine-making with modern technology. Their principals are to crop at a very low level to enhance fruit quality and flavours, harvesting their grapes by hand and low intervention winemaking principles. The estate vineyard is close-planted in European tradition, facing Northwest and dry farmed. The winery is built multi-leveled to utilise gravity rather than pumping wines. A modern laboratory ensures control of fermentations but is not seen as a substitute to regular organoleptic evaluations of the wines.
Johanneshof is a labour of love and is Edel and Warwick's way of making sure you get genuinely crafted, sustainable wines of the highest quality.
In this video, one of our vineyard workers is working at the top of our Maybern Vineyard, looking down on the winery and cellar door below as he begins the process of "wire lifting" in spring.