He called it Montana, meaning mountain, after its location in the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland. Thirty years later his two sons used the same name when they founded their wine company and started producing what soon became the trendsetting wines in New Zealand. Looking for a greater grape resource, Montana Wines played a key role in the development of Gisborne, on the eastern tip of the North Island, as a premium winemaking region. This coincided with a concerted effort to increase the quality of the wines produced.
In 1973 Montana took the bold step of planting the first modern commercial vineyard in the traditional sheep-farming region of Marlborough, on the Northeast corner of the South Island. It proved to be an inspired choice, as was Montana's decision to grow Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough has since become New Zealand's main viticultural region, with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc undoubtedly the country's signature wine on the international market.
Montana also entered the Hawke's Bay viticulture region when the company bought the historic Church Road winery near Napier, some 200 km south of Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island. At this small winery, Montana is pushing the boundaries to create exquisite boutique wines. With vineyards and wineries in all three major grape-growing areas of New Zealand, Montana produces an extensive range of premium still wines.
In recent years, Montana has focused on developing Gisborne as a premium wine region, expanding key vineyard sites and purchasing additional, well-located vineyards. The existing winemaking facilities that we took over in 1973 have been upgraded and a new cooperage built. Gisborne is described by local grape growers as the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand, a claim that can be supported by the quantity and quality of the region's wines. The Montana Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 1998 won the White Wine of the Year award at the 1999 International Wine Challenge in London.
The winery's traditional oak barriques are used for the barrel fermentation and maturation of Montana Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay, awarded White Wine of the Year at the 1997 International Wine Challenge in London—an achievement the wine repeated in 2002 - and other premium wines. The most famous wine to hail from the Brancott Winery is Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the largest exported version of New Zealand's signature wine variety. The Montana Marlborough Pinot Noir is also an award-winning wine produced at this vineyard. The multi-million dollar visitor facility at the Brancott Winery in Marlborough is also a must-see for tourists. It features an elegant restaurant, retail store, tasting rooms and wine education facility.
Today, Montana is New Zealand's leading wine range. With vineyards in Gisborne, Marlborough and Hawke's Bay, Montana produces a matchless range of quality still wines. Montana is the top selling New Zealand wine internationally and more people around the world drink Montana than any other New Zealand wine. Montana has long celebrated the New Zealand spirit in all its forms, including arts sponsorships such as the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Montana's finishing winery and bottling facility in its original hometown of Auckland, packages all the wines and completes the winemaking for the company's internationally acclaimed methode traditionnelle wines, Lindauer and Deutz. Launched in 1990, Montana's Timara label consists of a range of quality varietal wines, crafted in easy-drinking styles, that offer excellent value for money, and are suitable for any occasion. Wine writers have endorsed Timara's quality. This is what Paul White has said about the Timara Sauvignon Blanc 2001, "First, Timara is very good. I especially like its lovely uncomplicated aromatic mix of tomato plant leaves and passionfruit" In Australia Gourmet Traveller Huon Hooke says: "The quality of New Zealand Riesling has picked up in the past couple of years, and this wine is amazingly good value," in reference to Timara Riesling 2001.
Timara is also exported to America, the UK and Europe. While Montana has long been the most enjoyed wine in New Zealand, the international market is showing increasing interest in the distinctive qualities of these wines. Montana wines are already sought out by wine lovers in more than thirty countries, while the United States is getting to know the wines under the name Brancott Vineyards. Montana is now energetically extending its vineyard resource and further honing it's winemaking expertise.