MĀORI POINT IS DR. MARILYN DUXSON, DR. JOHN HARRIS, AND MATT EVANS: SCIENTISTS, GRAPEGROWERS, & WINEMAKERS
Māori Point is located in Central Otago, New Zealand. Ringed by the Southern Alps and carved by glaciers, this land rises from the banks of the Mata-Au (Clutha River), and is named for the Māori prospectors who panned for gold here in the 1860s. Our winery and tasting room are beside our vineyard. This is an extreme place: we are surrounded by mountains that are snow-covered in winter (and often through summer). Our soil is wind-blown loess and gravels over deep deposits of large boulders left at the foot of the Hawea glacier, 200,000 years ago. Free-draining and low in organic matter, this soil is ideal for Pinot Noir. Our grapes and wines are influenced by the schist-based soils, by the intensity of our sunlight (particularly in the ultraviolet spectrum), by the cool nights and variable weather of this challenging sub-alpine environment, and by the unique microflora that manage to survive here.
As scientists, we aspire to understand this land - this ecosystem - and the wine it creates. Dr. John Harris and Dr. Marilyn planted Māori Point Vineyard in 2002, after careers as scientists and professors at University of Otago, UCSF, Harvard, and universities in Britain, France, and Japan. These days, Marilyn is usually found working among the vines or native vegetation - or at the Bragato Research Institute, helping to progress NZ wine research. Similarly, John is usually on the tractor, in his wine lab, or working on the Gold Digger sparkling (it's a special love of his, which explains why our sample bottles frequently go missing). John might also be in the barrel hall with Matt Evans, tasting the young Pinot Noir. Matt did undergraduate at Princeton, graduate school at UC Berkeley, and post-grad at UC Davis. Although he lacks a PhD, he claims to be a scientist by osmosis. After two years in investment banking, Matt began making wine in Northern California in 2003 while working his "real jobs" at NVIDIA and the solar energy company he co-founded, but he left Silicon Valley for his first harvest at Māori Point in 2011. He has made award-winning wines from multiple vineyards in California and Central Otago.
We are deeply connected to this ecosystem. Each grapevine has a story, and we laboriously hand-tend each vine to help it tell that story. Flowers and aromatic plants are grown between the vine rows and then mown and mulched under the vines, which along with our compost creates beneficial nutrition for the vines. Our extensive native plantings are thriving, and our honeybees can be found buzzing throughout the property. This land and its microflora may explain why our wines show particular purity and intensity, combining beautiful flavors with soft, velvety textures. We allow the native wild yeasts from our vineyard to perform our Pinot Noir fermentations, and we do not fine or filter our Pinot Noir. Our winemaking is the artisanal ideal: our winery is right next to our vines, and we hand craft our wines with minimal intervention. We do not intervene, yet we are deeply involved: we smell and taste and ponder each fermentation and each barrel of our wine, from start to finish. We have learned to read our wines, to understand their past and dream about what they will become.
These words can only take you so far. To truly understand, come visit us and taste our wines!