After long careers as soldier and nurse, Peter & Jane buy a few sheep paddocks by the Black Birch Stream in the Awatere Valley and establish 20 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, from scratch.
They set about learning how to manage a vineyard. To help fund the venture Peter would often be working in Wellington during the week leaving Jane to train the 22,000 new vines on her own. They would work together all weekend spending the night in their old caravan.
After two modest harvests the new crop was completely destroyed by a late spring frost with no grape income for another 18 months and more travel for Peter. Facing the reality of the hardship in operating a vineyard we faced the possibility of giving up. However, the story took a different turn and the hope of realizing our dream was renewed. In 2003 our son Simon Clark joined the team after completing his BVO and working vintages in Australia, Germany and New Zealand.
We relocated an old villa from Blenheim to the vineyard and achieved Sustainable Wine Growing New Zealand accreditation.
We move into our villa and make the winery our home.
We install two ‘wind machines’ for frost protection and to begin expanding the vineyard to its current size: 10 ha (25 acres) Sauvignon Blanc, 2 ha (5 acres) Pinot Gris and almost 1ha (2 acres) Riesling.
Sarah joined us in the sales and marketing role. Her sister Jen also helps with wine dispatch.
We convert our entire crop into our own wine. With 12,000 cases and a global recession we had to get better at selling. By early 2009 the gamble paid off with major new export customers in the USA and Australia and a growth in sales in New Zealand.
We win our first Gold medal with the 2010 Clark Estate Sauvignon Blanc