Tūāpae Vineyard: Cultivating Tradition, Sustainability, and Unique Māori Flavours on Waiheke Island

Matt Pryor
January 22, 2024
In the heart of Waiheke Island, nestled within the lands of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, lies Tūāpae Vineyard, a Māori-owned gem producing exquisite wines with a deep connection to the whenua and the rich history of Aotearoa.

Vanessa Reynolds, the proud owner of Tūāpae Vineyard, shares her journey into the world of winemaking, the challenges she faced, and the unique contributions Māori bring to the wine industry.

Ko Ngā ̄ Pona Toru ā ̄ Peretū rāua ko Kohukohunui ōku maunga
Ko Te Marae o Tai tōku moana
Ko Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki rāua ko Te Waiōhua ōku iwi
Kei Waiheke ahau e noho ana
Ko Vanessa Reynolds ahau

Discovering the Wonders of Waiheke:

For Vanessa, the journey into winemaking was more of a destiny unfolding on Waiheke Island rather than a deliberate choice. The island chose her, weaving her whānau story into the fabric of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki's historical claims. Vanessa's connection to the land deepened with each passing year, and the decision to settle on Waiheke Island became an irrevocable commitment.

Becoming "Accidental" Vineyard Owners:

Vanessa and her husband found themselves accidental vineyard owners, discovering established vines on the property. This unexpected turn sparked a new journey, intertwining with the historical roots of the land. The choice to embrace organic farming practices became a defining moment, emphasising their commitment to the whenua, despite the initial setbacks.

Choosing a Meaningful Name:

Selecting a Māori name for the vineyard posed its own challenges, navigating the delicate balance of tapu and noa within an industry that often overlooks cultural sensitivities. Tūāpae, meaning 'anything bounding the horizon,' reflects the panoramic views from the ridgeline, encapsulating the tribal rohe. The decision not to conform to typical naming conventions reflects the vineyard's rustic vibe and unique kaupapa.

Incorporating Ki Uta Ki Tai Kaupapa

Tūāpae Vineyard actively embraces the ki uta ki tai kaupapa, recognising the interconnectedness of land and sea. Vanessa's commitment to organic farming reflects her dedication to preserving the waterways flowing to her tribal moana, contributing to the wider moana's biodiversity. The vineyard's transition to organic inputs aligns with a vision of sustainable viticulture.

Māori Representation in the WineIndustry:

Vanessa sheds light on the low representation of Māori in the wine industry, emphasising the unique contribution Māori can make. With an innate connection to the whenua, Māori possess a strong understanding that can enhance viticulture and winemaking. The concept of terroir finds resonance in Māori culture, where soil, climate, and environment shape the distinct character of the wine.

Words of Encouragement for Aspiring Winemakers:

Vanessa extends a warm invitation to those considering entering the wine industry. The breadth of opportunities, from viticulture to winemaking and hospitality, allows individuals to find their niche. In Aotearoa, where rules are more flexible than in places like Europe, the industry is really broad and some cool and exciting things are happening.

Tūāpae's wines are more than just delicious – they reflect a commitment to the whenua, sustainability, and te ao Māori. Grown from Bordeaux grape varietals, made by renowned winemaker Patrick Newton, these wines express care for the land and waterways. Purchasing Tūāpae wines supports a Māori wahine-owned business, contributing to diversity in an industry that often lacks Māori representation.

You can indulge in the unique flavours of Tūāpae wines by visiting their website at www.tuapae.co.nz. From early February 2024, you can also experience the vineyard first hand by making a booking to visit the cellar door. For trade enquiries or collaborations with Māori businesses, contact Vanessa directly at info@tuapae.co.nz

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