As a region, Marlborough benefits from a long growing season and has free draining soils. It is protected from adverse weather conditions by mountain ranges to the South, West and North and is bounded by the sea to the East. Focussing on grape varieties ideally situated for cool climate growing, the Weaver’s produce high quality Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Viognier and Petit Manseng from their 22 hectare single vineyard.
The Churton story begins with its unique site. Marlborough vineyards are predominantly located on the valley floor but the Churton vineyard encompasses an undulating ridge that allows the Weaver family to craft distinctive wines of origin. The hillside vineyard sits between the Waihopai and Omaka Valleys at 200m above sea level. The ideal northeast facing slope provides good exposure to morning sun and the less intense afternoon sun and the altitude results in slightly cooler evening temperatures. Together these contribute to the complex aromatic structure of Churton wines.
At time of planting, the undulating Churton site revealed a clear 17 block configuration. Each with a unique topography and aspect, the individual blocks provide the Churton blending bench with a variety of flavour profiles and nuances.
The Churton vineyard is loess above a clay subsoil which, at deep levels, has good water holding capacity and protects vines from drought. With dry farming, the vines typically don’t need a trim through the growing season but laterals in the fruit zoning area are removed if required.
The vineyard is close planted at a density of 4630 vines /ha with the canopy trained to VSP (double guyot) and shoot thinned to about 9 shoots /meter. Churton fruit is picked 100% by hand and is triaged (sorted) in both the vineyard and winery. By utilising organic and biodynamic techniques such as compost and inter-row crops the Churton vineyard has good soil health and is rich with microorganisms – the foundation of great wine
The vineyard is managed to ensure that Churton picks well balanced, evenly ripened fruit each year. Key viticultural techniques include shoot thinning, green harvesting, removal of bunch shoulders, and the balanced use of stress in the vineyard prior to verasion. The quality focus continues in the winery, respecting the flavours produced in the vineyard and ensuring that Churton wines always speak of their place. Winemaking is intended to subtly underline vineyard characteristics of finesse and delicacy. Oak use is considered ensuring balance of fruit is retained with greater focus on techniques such as fermentation temperatures, long maceration and use of solids which contribute to palate structure. Churton’s commitment to organic principles, astute vineyard management and hands-off winemaking produce sophisticated and true “vins de terroir”.
At present, two vineyard blocks have been highlighted as producing wine complete in themselves. The Abyss pinot noir was first bottled individually in 2010 and the Best End sauvignon blanc followed in 2013. The Weavers’ see these wines as the ultimate expressions of their varietal and terroir.