The Trinity Hill story began in 1987 when John Hancock met Robert and Robyn Wilson in their London restaurant Bleeding Heart. Over a bottle of John’s award-winning Chardonnay, the concept of a Hawkes Bay winery was born. They were convinced they could produce world-class red wines as well as white in this region of New Zealand.
John recognised the outstanding potential of Hawkes Bay’s Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district and in 1993 Trinity Hill became one of the region’s early pioneers, planting grape vines on a barren plot on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River.
The traditional Hawkes Bay grape varieties of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were planted. Convinced the terroir was equally suited to Southern European grape varieties, Syrah and Viognier were also planted and were followed by experimental plantings of Tempranillo, Arneis and Montepulciano.
By 1996 they produced the first small vintage on off-site premises. And in 1997 Stage 1 of The Winery was built on its current site on State Highway 50 and completed in time for the 1997 vintage. The Cellar Door was also established and Pinot Gris vines were planted in front of the winery. Winemaking facilities combining the traditional with the modern are incorporated in the completion of the Barrel Hall in 1998.
A large tract of land around and up the valley behind the winery has been landscaped and the maturing gardens became a popular picnic area, offering a peaceful retreat and excellent rural views.
The first Gimblett Road wines, barrel-aged, were released in 1998 (vintage 1997); Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Syrah, to critical acclaim and a number of gold medals and trophies.
In 2000, a further 20 hectare parcel of prime Gimblett Gravels land was purchased, named “Gimblett Stones” where Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot plus areas of Tempranillo, Syrah and Viognier were planted.
By 2001 The Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association was set up with 34 wineries and winegrowers from a “terroir”-defined area of the old Ngaruroro Riverbed, including Gimblett Road. Trinity Hill was and remains a founding member.
In 2002, the first vintage super-premium wine Homage Syrah was made. When it was released in 2004 it received critical acclaim world-wide. The 2006 vintage of Homage Syrah won the Supreme Award at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in 2007.
And the story continues…
About John Hancock
John is President and Founder and an owner of Trinity Hill. He is one of the most charismatic personalities in the New Zealand Wine Industry with more than 35 years of experience in New Zealand, Australia and France, He graduated from the noteable Roseworthy College in South Australia in 1973.
As founding winemaker for one of New Zealand’s early wine successes, Morton Estate, John produced a number of award-winning wines, including the best Chardonnay in the World at the 1997 Wine Magazine’s International Wine Challenge.
His subsequent experience working with top wine houses in the Rhone and Burgundy, has been a touchstone of wine styles to come from Trinity Hill; respect for the old, tempered with belief in the new. His vintages at Tain L’Hermitage in the Rhone with the late Gerard Jaboulet were the genesis of the now iconic Trinity Hill Homage Syrah.
John continues to be the “face” of Trinity Hill as he travels around the globe and New Zealand promoting Trinity Hill wines and the wines of Hawkes Bay and New Zealand in general. He is a senior wine judge in wine shows throughout New Zealand.
Warren was educated at Massey University, New Zealand, and at Roseworthy College, South Australia. (He is still a proud enough Kiwi to outwardly follow the NZ cricket team!) He began his winemaking career in New Zealand in 1986 with John at Morton Estate, subsequently travelling the world as a Flying Winemaker, including vintages in Australia, Italy, Hungary, France and California. It was there that a Chardonnay he made was awarded white wine of the year at the 1997 International Wine Challenge.
When Trinity Hill was established in 1997, Warren rejoined John to work along side him. The vintages he has produced since then leave no doubt that he has truly earned the accolades of New Zealand Winemaker of the Year, from Winestate Magazine in 2005, and Winemaker of the Year Winemaker Award at the Mercedes Benz Hawkes Bay Wine Show in 2006.
Warren also manages Trinty Hill’s viticultural team and vineyards. His oversight has led to ongoing improvements and growth in our vineyards to support his aspirations in the winery.
Since 1998, Warren has been a regular judge at all of his country’s major wine shows including being a regular “Cuisine” magazine panellist. He was an international guest judge of the National Wine Show of Australia (Canberra) in 2010.