Gravitas wines are sourced entirely from estate vineyards in Marlborough. Apart from wine, the family business is also developing other luxury gourmet products, including black perigord truffles and ultra-premium olive oils. Marlborough's Wairau Valley is a spectacularly beautiful part of New Zealand, Land of the Lord of the Rings. An hour or so from the vineyards can be found the snow-capped St Arnaud's Mountain Range and ski-fields, the world-renowned Kaikoura whale and dolphin sanctuaries, deep limestone caves, the primordial forests of the Nelson Lakes National Park and the endless and empty white sand beaches of the Able Tasman National Park.
The Marlborough region is without a doubt one of New Zealand's most outstanding tourist destinations regions. The country's wine and seafood capital, it is also one of the country's most picturesque and provides a range of outdoor activities that is hard to beat anywhere in the world. East-West, through the centre of the region runs the heart of New Zealand's wine industry - the Wairau and Awatere river valleys, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the high St Arnaud's Mountain Range. Both valleys are also bordered by spectacular hills and mountains, which are snow capped for much of the year and where wild boar and deer roam freely.
Marlborough regularly claims the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand - averaging 11 hours of sunshine a day for most of the year and low rainfall (less than 60 cm or 24 inches), most which falls during the winter months. Despite the long sunshine hours and dry climate, temperatures are cooled by the nearby sea to a pleasant 25-30C during the summer. Winters can be cold with frosts during the period August-October.
The inspiration for the estate's name came from Baroness Rothschild herself who was patron of the Wine MBA that Martyn was completing. At the graduation ceremony in Bordeaux Martyn was describing to the Baroness how he felt he had become fat from eating and drinking great French wine and food. The Baroness replied, "No Monsieur Nicholls, this is not fat but an image of gravitas!" Grav-i-tas (grav'i-täs') is from the Latin word, meaning something that is of great stature, seriousness and elegance, and that sums up what Martyn Nicholls winemaking is about. To create highly notable editions which are achieving the highest acclaim purely on the basis of merit.
In 1993 after a long search for the perfect vineyard site, merchant banker Martyn Nicholls and his family, made the seachange from city finance to viticulture, and settled on a 30 hectare block of premium vineyard land in the upper Wairau Valley at the heart of Marlborough. In the months that followed, the backbreaking work began, to clear the land and plant carefully selected clones and varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir that would become the focus of our wine range. Within twelve months Martyn's dream of his Saint Arnaud vineyard was a reality and over the years, his vines thrived.
Martyn Nicholls and his dedicated team arbored diligently around the vineyard, as well as designs and plans for the new winery, barrel hall and tasting facility. The operation has a capacity 40,000 cases and the barrel hall runs underground for a hundred and fifty feet from the winery, through a hill and out to the other side, with a spectacular view across the vineyard floor, 300 or so hundred feet below.
Gravitas wines have achieved spectacular success over the years and are achieving renown internationally. Gravitas has an enviable record at wine shows around the world, with multiple medal wins. The accolades are expected to continue, as St Arnaud tend to release their wines much later than most, in the belief that they evolve dramatically in the bottle - and an extra wait often makes a real difference in quality.