Stephen White, founder of Stonyridge is quite a character. He was sporting a T shirt with Mick Jagger and Bob Marley and appeared to be in very chill mood. He was preparing his speech for his son’s wedding the following day but still made time to come and meet me. I asked him what he was going to crack open on the big day, ‘A 3 litre bottle of one of our earlier vintages of Larose, and it’ll be staying on my table!’
He is into yoga and has previously sailed around the world. His life experience and passion has led to some great Mantras displayed on the walls of the property, such as ‘We are very serious about what we do….but what we do is not very serious’
‘The time to be happy is NOW, the place to be happy is HERE, the way to be happy is to make someone else HAPPY’
Stonyridge is the second vineyard on Waiheke, starting in 1982 after Goldwater Estate (now Goldies) They are renowned for their Larose a Bordeaux blend which is only sold en primeur through members. It is a sheltered site protected from winds by Stonyridge. Stephen had great vision to buy the land for a tiny fraction of today’s price, and identify ideal sites for Bordeaux blends.
I tasted their 1 barrel production of Chardonnay 2018 which was oak influenced. I was only the 10th person to try the 2019 which had more elegance, stone fruit and subtle oak. The Larose 2018 was fruity, appealing and had soft tannins. I was then ushered into the wine cellar which was full of purple hydrangeas ready for the wedding day to try a barrel sample of the 2019. This was big, brooding, intense with excellent structure and length and was clearly a magnificent vintage.
Stephen said he’d like to keep 50 cases of the 300 to himself for this one!
I was so impressed that I joined the VIP club and ordered a case en primeur. Roll on November when it will arrive in the UK and I’ll have to try and keep my hands off it for a decade or so!