Hans Herzog – The Renaissance Man

The Estate

Situated in the sunny and arid region of Marlborough, New Zealand the Hans Herzog Vineyard, stretching across 11.5 hectares of fertile land, is sustained by the Wairau River. The presence of the river means that there is a consistent source of nourishment for the dry and gruff soil making it an ideal location for the production of  Pinot Noir and Bordeaux wine varieties.

History

Hans Herzog hails from an extensive line of successful Swiss pastoral and wine farmers by the Rhine River Valley dating back 500 years. Alongside his wife Therese, Hans owned a successful vineyard in Switzerland’s Zurich wine country. Therese who could be regarded as a devoted foodie ended her career in marketing in 1992 to follow her passion, inevitably establishing a restaurant at the family’s wine estate. This step only increased the appeal of their winery as guests would flock to the area to experience the blend of famed wines and the fine food which were specifically prepared to be complementary. The restaurant went on to receive the coveted Michelin Star which further set it apart from the rest.

Hans Herzog Winery

Hans Herzog Winery, photo: Jessica Jones

From Switzerland to New Zealand

The desire to branch out into the Bordeaux wine industry is what compelled Hans to ultimately make the move from Switzerland to New Zealand. The region in the Rhine Valley with its cool environment, prevented Hans from experimenting with different wine varieties. In 1994, in pursuit of the ideal land to branch out, Hans found himself purchasing property, a former apple orchard in Marlborough, NZ. The first vines were planted in 1996, this was followed by the winery which produced its very first vintage in 1998 and now boasts 28 different grape varieties.

Organic Farming Methods

The region is ideal for various reasons, but particularly because it receives an extensive period of sunlight in contrast to the Rhine Valley. It has dry and mild Autumns, this allows Hans to incorporate laborious farming methods which in turn allows every grape variety to reach peak and perfect ripeness. The region has much to offer and all things considered, it allows Hans to keep being progressive in production of new grape varieties. Hans views himself as more of a cultivator than a wine maker therefore subscribing to organic farming methods. He is dedicated to using the most sustainable approach to wine production and incorporates the traditional farming methods of his ancestors alongside his own. He is dedicated to quality and a well-rounded approach to wine making, which includes astrology in terms of paying close attention to moon phases and the picking and pruning of grapes by hand.

Furthermore, the microclimate of Marlborough can be credited with creating the ideal level of ripeness in both spring harvests and late ripening grapes. This occurs because the presence of the aforementioned Wairau River which holds various deposits including stones and gravel, soaks up the heat which these stones retain and pass onto the grapes. This allows heat to be released during the cooler nights and aids the ripening process. The river is also responsible for shielding the grapes from frost during the colder months.

Where most wines contain a number of foul ingredients such as yeast, bacteria, acid, enzymes, and tannins in order to aid the process, Hans Herzog wines only contain a minor amount of sulphur. The wine is given sufficient time in the barrels and bottles which adds to the organic appeal.

 

Organic Farming at Hans Herzog

Organic Farming methods are used at Hans Herzog Winery. Photo by Jessica Jones

Accolades

It is safe to say that Hans reached new levels of success in Marlborough, going on to produce internationally requested handcrafted wines. He is very thorough and hands-on when it comes to the process of bottling and aging these wines and goes above and beyond in order to ensure that all wines are of the highest quality before they are released to the public. Hans Herzog Estate’s 2012 Tempranillo was awarded  Gold at the Organic Wine Awards (2016).

Further solidifying their success, Therese opened the Herzog restaurant offering, not only the finest dining, but an experience which indulges the fantasies of any wine connoisseur. The restaurant, a recipient of the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence, overlooks the vineyards and boasts with excellent chefs from across continental Europe. It therefore presents the finest cuisine and overall dining experience in the country.

Hans Herzog Winery has gone on to establish a Cellar Door, Bistro and Vineyard Cottage alongside the highly acclaimed restaurant. The establishment has cemented their place in New Zealand’s wine country, most recently being nominated in the category of New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

In the vineyard, Hans Herzog

BY Melanie Snell | October 28, 2020

Melanie Snell Melanie is an education professional with a Bachelor of Arts focused in Linguistics from University of the Western Cape. She's an eco-socialist with a keen interest in sustainable development.