Brick Bay’s Land of Plenty
As you meander down the winding driveway to Brick Bay you’ll notice the spectacular vistas and beauty of the landscape, but this is more than just aesthetically pleasing scenery. The 200 acre property produces not only wine, but olive oil, honey, free range lamb and a multitude of ingredients for The Glass House restaurant.
The 4.5 hectare sustainably accredited vineyard produces all the fruit for Brick Bay Wines.
Now well known for their acclaimed Pinot Gris, the Didsbury family decided to plant grape vines back in 1995 and have been producing a tightly focussed selection of wines ever since. The soil is a clay loam which was used in the 1800s to make bricks and was the catalyst for one of the pioneering local industries with a brick factory situated at the bay, hence the name ‘Brick Bay’.
Each vine is carefully tended by hand by the hard working viticultural team throughout its annual cycle and Brian, the farm and vineyard manager, ensures that quality grapes make it through to harvest. This is no easy task with the recent tropical cyclones! Then the call goes out to staff, friends, and locals to come and join the grape harvest. You can’t beat a day in the vines under the sun's golden rays, grass between your toes with the friendly chatter of fellow pickers.
As each variety is harvested, the chilled fruit is transported to West Brook Winery in Waimauku who have made Brick Bay wine with passion since 1998. The finished products - Rosé, Pinot Gris, Pharos, Martello Rock and soon the latest wine addition, Chardonnay, are all available at The Glass House and online.
What started as a small interest in beekeeping has become a staple product in the Brick Bay offering. With sixteen hives now situated on the land surrounded by kanuka, manuka, kowhai, pohutukawa as well as nearby wildflower plantings, lavender, rosemary, lilies, lotus, clover and borage, the bees have a rich source for their nectar foraging.
The owners, Richard and Christine Didsbury, collect the honey straight from the hives which is then minimally filtered to give a real taste of the Brick Bay terroir, and decanted into jars ready for sale or incorporation into a restaurant dish.
Arguably the olive trees have one of the best vantage points on the property, situated just to the right as you wind down the driveway with views overlooking The Glass House and out to Kawau Bay.
The first trees were planted 25 years ago, a block of Spanish olive trees followed by two further blocks of Italian varieties in 2003 and 2010.
Hand-picked once optimally ripened in late April to early May, the olives are then cold pressed locally and oil transported back to Brick Bay ready for hand bottling.
With a multitude of fruit and nut trees dotted around the property keeping a track of the harvest calendar is imperative. There are the trusted favourites such as lemons, limes, figs, and pears but also some more unusual additions, such as giant ponderosa lemons and black walnuts - great for pickling and bottling. Chestnuts once fallen from the tree will be collected and burrs removed, to then be incorporated into a delicious chestnut pudding, the perfect autumn treat.
After experimenting over the years with angora goats and cattle, the farm has settled on raising sheep, integrating southdown stock into their breeding ewes.
The lamb produced has the subtle influence of the sea breezes, said to season the meat, and the sheep literally tread more gently on the land itself, preventing soil compaction and degradation.
The kitchen garden completes the stable with vegetables, herbs and edible flowers in abundance.
Annett (Farm and Vineyard Forewoman) and Kelly (Chef de partie) work together to make sure that seasonal produce is planted and harvested at the optimum time, then incorporated into the ever-changing Glass House menu. The seasonal bruschetta is a great stage for in-season figs and tomatoes while the Asian vegetables and fragrant herbs produce consistently all year round to sustain the kitchen.
Next time you visit Brick Bay and are contemplating the beauty of the surroundings, take a moment to also observe the generous bounty of this diverse landscape.
Online bookings recommended
Brick Bay open every day, 10am-5pm