There’s no denying that Marlborough is the engine room of the New Zealand wine juggernaut. But even here, artisans survive – and better still, thrive. And with wines and winemakers, there’s always a back story. Or should that be a back label?
For Tupari, that began in 1988 when Heather and David Turnbull bought a farm in the Upper Awatere Valley. Glenn Thomas had been attracted to the district around the same time. He was the now-famous valley’s founding winemaker, producing its first sauvignon blanc, and was chief winemaker at both Vavasour and Goldwater. The Turnbull and Thomas families met when Glenn and partner Sharon leased the Turnbulls’s farm cottage. Over a few bottles, Glenn convinced the Turnbulls their river terraces were perfectly positioned to grow grapes.
In 2002 the Tupari vineyard was planted with sauvignon blanc, followed by pinot noir, pinot gris and a luscious late-harvest riesling. Tupari is very much a family affair. These days, David can happily describe himself as the vigneron, founder, director, farmer, engineer and lawn mower; Heather as founder, mother, grandmother, activist and team support, and “the glue that holds the Tupari team together”. Olivia Turnbull Doonan is sales manager, Eliza Turnbull marketing manager, and Heath Turnbull is vineyard manager, working with his father to perfect the terroir.
As for Glenn, they just let him do what he’s always done best: create sophisticated, elegant, award-winning wines. Those words, too, describe the Tupari philosophy: “In a world full of smoke and mirrors, we produce something simple and true. “We live on the land where the grapes are grown and we care about what goes into our soil – taking a sustainable and biological approach. “We believe in winemaking with minimal intervention – exposing the true flavours of the grapes. “Every decision we make is about creating the best possible wine for you to share. We love talking technical whenever we can, but we also know that most of you just want to know if the wine is good.” It is.
Visit tupari.co.nz for more information.