Sculptureum’s big crush


Since Anthony and Sandra Grant opened the gates to Sculptureum in Matakana almost a year ago, the galleries and gardens have been the talk of the town. Very soon, however, their latest vintage will be on everyone’s lips. 

“During the establishment of the art facilities, the vineyard was left to lie dormant,” says Sculptureum’s new viticulturist, Tina Hutchinson. “This year’s crop will be the first since 2015.” The carer of the vines learned her trade under the tutelage of the biodynamic guru Margaret Boswell. Now Tina is slowly but surely applying those principles to the picturesque boutique Matakana vineyard. 

The low-yielding, grape-laden vines, over which two steel “Guards” stand sentinel, are harvested from mid March through to late April. This season, the team at Sculptureum is keen to introduce a European tradition: “Come and pick for a few hours and we’ll feed you afterwards,” says Tina. “It’s a great way to build community and for wine lovers to discover what we do.”

Once the grapes are gathered, Sculptureum’s talented ex-Church Road winemaker, Tony Pritchard, will work his magic, combining new world style with old world philosophy and technique to create clean, bright, upright wines that emphasise the mineral content and give them legs to age. 

Julie Woodyear-Smith, the manager of the venue’s restaurant, Rothko, explains: “Alongside our varietals, we plan to produce 100 cases of rosé to satisfy the huge local demand.”

While the 2018 wines are maturing, Rothko offers patrons some aged gems: the “art series” includes a barrel-fermented 2014 “Chagall” Chardonnay with the hue of ripe hay and notes of crushed geranium, a cedary, muscular 2013 “Cezanne” Syrah, and a dark, broody 2013 “Rodin” Bordeaux blend of cabinet franc, merlot and carménère. There’s also the “garden series” pitched towards the mid-range palate, which includes the last of the Pinot Gris (2010) under the Oakhill label. To sample some of these vintages, Rothko’s passionate and knowledgeable troupe offers wine tastings. 

Save this date: On Sunday 29 April, Sculptureum will host a harvest festival with live music from White Chapel Jak, a bit of grape-stomping, some good food – and, of course, great wine.