Bishops Head Wines
Bishops Head is a boutique winery found in the Waipara Valley at the northern end of the Canterbury Plains in New Zealand. We take our name from the majestic limestone rock-face, found deep in the Waipara Gorge known locally as the Bishop’s Head.
Our Bishops Head wines are made in a ripe European style, utilising traditional winemaking techniques, the natural strengths of the Waipara Valley are emphasised with minimal use of synthetic inputs. Our Rockface wines display great varietal and regional character and represent great value.
The Bishops Head range is grown on our estate managed vineyards. Utilising traditional winemaking techniques, the natural strengths of the Waipara Valley are emphasised with low yielding vines producing wines of purity and complexity.
All hand picked, most of the whites are fermented and aged in barrel (rieslings being the exception) and spend at least 6 months on fermentation lees to develop richness and weight to the wine. These wines are usually fermented to completion with indigenous yeast, however we do innoculate if required.
Our Pinot Noirs, also hand picked, are fermented in 1.5 ton vats. They undergo pre-fermentation maceration for up to 10 days before the indigenous ’wild’ yeast start the fermentation. On skins for up to 6 weeks before pressing and barrelling down. They remain in barrel for 12-15 months before assemblage and bottling.
Our winemaking team of Peter Saunders and Paul Hewitt have combined experience of over 35 years in the wine industry. Both have worked numerous vintages in Europe as well as Australia, South Africa and the United States. Between them they oversees all aspects of viticultural management and winemaking.
Peter Saunders – Managing Director
Prior to establishing Bishops Head Peter spent fifteen years gaining hands on experience in all facets of the wine business, both in NZ and overseas. After several years working at Cloudy Bay Vineyards in Marlborough he studied at Lincoln University, gaining a Bachelor of Commerce and Management in 1997 and a Post Graduate Diploma of Viticulture and Oenology in 1999. Between overseas vintages he was winemaker at Domain Georges Michel in Marlborough.
Peter’s international experience includes harvests in South Africa and California and five vintages in France. In particular his time at Domaine la Moussiere (Sancerre), Domaine de Montille (Volnay) and Domaine de la Vougeraie (Nuits St Georges) has had a strong influence on his winemaking style.
Paul Hewett - Winemaker
Paul has a wide range of experience in the industry not only as a winemaker but also as a judge at the International Wine Challenge and fine wine broker for a respected independent wine merchant in London. Paul has a Bachelors degree in Botany and Zoology from Canterbury University (NZ) as well as a Post Graduate Diploma of Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University.
International winemaking experiences have taken Paul to Australia, Germany and France, including valuable stints at Domaine Chandon (Yarra Valley), Wiengut Krebs Grode (Rhinehessen) and Domaine Albert Mann (Alsace). Prior to Joining the Bishops Head team in 2011 Paul was winemaker at Torlesse Wines for 8 years.
The Waipara Valley region is rapidly gaining a reputation for producing superb Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines such as Riesling and Pinot Gris. The valley, surrounded by the limestone clay slopes of Mt Cass to the east and Three Deans range to the west, experiences intense prevailing north-west winds in the spring and hot dry summer and autumn months. This, balanced by cold winters, provide outstanding conditions for grape growing. The climate naturally leads to lower yielding vines with intense, ripe, concentrated fruit flavours.
If you have questions for any other region, please do not hesitate to ask us.