People rise to prominence in the wine industry through many pathways. For some it is the inheritance of centuries revitalised by a young generation, for others it is early learning at one of our wine universities and a gradual climb to recognition.
Occasionally a maverick comes along. An outsider with a passion to succeed.
He is not a winemaker himself and, by his own admission, does not possess a world-class palate, but he does know his country and how harmonising with nature can produce great results.The man is Peter Yealands.
He is the energy behind a team that has achieved mightily in a short span of time.
Peter is more at home on a bulldozer than in an office. Although new to wine he has always had a close connection with the land of his native New Zealand. He was the first to see the commercial potential in Greenshell mussels and received NZ’s first marine farming license In 1971. The techniques he developed have helped the industry to become a $160 million business. In the 1980s he turned his attention to deer farming. His successful farm on a 2000 hectare property in Marlborough at the top of the South Island won a rural environment award in 2003.
Sustainability in action
Peter entered the world of wine with typical enthusiasm, including levelling terraces and establishing vines in the hills above the valley floor that others had thought too steep to cultivate.As the land has been good to him, he is determined not only to produce good wines but do it in a way that pleases the land as well.
His objective to be the most sustainable winery in the world.
Across his seven vineyards and sleekly modern winery you see the signs. Wind turbines, one of NZ’s largest solar panel installations on the winery roof, extra power is obtained from burning vine prunings in custom-built furnaces. Between the rows of vines you’ll see mustard and wildflowers growing. Or some of his Kunekune pigs or Babydoll sheep, too small to nibble the grapes.
Yealands was the first certified carboNZero winery and was recently was named World Champion at UK’s Green Apple awards ahead of five hundred multinational companies, not just wineries. Real world praise, indeed.
The big picture
Peter describes his company and the people he relies on as: “young, eager, maverick, innovative and daring.” He reckons you should always do well in your home town before you can do well overseas. His wines are the biggest seller in his native Blenheim and the fast growing brand in NZ. But after just 7 vintages the takeup overseas is remarkable.
The Yealands wines are now enjoyed in 60 countries and are the leading NZ labels in Netherlands, Germany and Brazil. When we talk to Peter he is just back from the US where his distribution now covers 42 states.
He has just announced an exclusive deal with Dan Murphys in Australia for his multi-award winning sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and pinot noir.
Marlborough will always be Sauvignon Blanc country, and we know Kiwi SBs have conquered the world, but Peter has just as much time for Pinot Gris and believes they are improving all the time with Pinot Noir. A lighter style spicy Syrah could be a good bet for a second string red in the district or maybe Tempranillo which he and half a dozen others are trialling. He loves those preserved cherry flavours, the terrific aftertaste.
Who knows what this man and his land can go on to produce?
To complete the quotation at the top of this article: “Think boldly, tread lightly, and never say it can’t be done.” Easy to see who you’d attribute that to … Peter Yealands. Read all about it at www.yealands.co.nz