Brian Breen - Vineyard Manager, Brick Bay 44

How did you come to winemaking / winegrowing – and why in Matakana?

Brick Bay vineyard was planted 20 years ago, so I’ve evolved as a winegrower with our vines. It’s such a great feeling to see something I know so well produce something that expresses this land and who we are.

What’s your favourite wine from your own vineyard?

Our Pinot Gris, because I know what a battle it is to grow, so it’s a triumph to be able to bring in beautiful fruit and still achieve nil spray residues in line with our sustainable wine growing practices. Each vintage the Pinot Gris is unique, and we’ve always maintained quality and the luscious mouthfeel that is our style.

What’s looking like the best of your current vintage?

Pharos 2013. Pharos is special because we don’t make it every year, only in the stellar ones.

The 2013 is made from Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Both James Rowan (our winemaker) and I love this wine, we think its our best Pharos yet. Here’s what we came up with over a few glasses: “Earthy and powerful, with dense velvety tannins, fine, bright fruit and a sturdy structure. A wine for time, evolution and revelation…”

Funny story?

I came to Brick Bay 20 years ago for a two week job – some fencing work. I’m still trying to get that job done!

Future plans?  I’m super excited that our first vintage of Chardonnay 2016 is in the barrel - this will be first release, from young vines in very limited quantities.

Varieties: Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay

Rose released late October, Chardonnay released 2017.



I was born and bred on a farm in the mighty Waikato, so the soil was always in my blood.  That, coupled with a long-held interest in wine, drew me to setting up a vineyard in 2006.  Matakana has a similar climate to the Piemonte region in Italy, although not quite as seasonally extreme (diurnal). I’d had a house in Algies Bay for around 20 years then, so it seemed like a logical place to bring all these threads together.

I like all my Italian reds, but my favourite has to be the Barbera. It’s a softer wine with very little tannin and full of juicy red berries. My 2014 Barbera was once described as Pinot Noir on steroids! Bob Campbell gave the 2014 vintage 93/100. Our Nebbiolo is great too – Bob gave the 2014 vintage 92/100 and the 2015 got 93/100.

My 2016 vintage reds still have some way to go, so at the moment my Viognier is looking great – it’s got a very aromatic nose to it this year!

I have a cellar door open on Saturdays and Sundays only from Labour Weekend until Easter, but looking forward I’d like to have it open longer. Providing a wider experience for customers with some local food to match the wine is also on the cards – my Chardonnay and Viognier go extremely well with Mahurangi oysters. Because it always sells out, I planted another 200+ Barbera vines last year, and have another 400+ to plant out later this year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo grape varieties.

Monarch Estate


How did you come to winemaking / winegrowing - and why in Matakana ?

We searched Matakana high and low, and fell in love with our property the moment we set eyes on it, only we weren't sure what to do with the 2,500 grapevines that made it so beautiful. Neither of us had any experience with vineyards or winemaking but Rachael, who runs her own marketing business, thought it would be a great idea to create our own wine brand! So we learnt fast how to grow grapes hired Warren Knudsen to help us make the best wine we possibly could.

What's your favourite wine from your vineyard ? Our Kaleidoscope Chardonnay 2015 – it's our ‘reserve’. We're lucky enough to be enjoying it now but other Chardonnay lovers will have to wait till it's released – hopefully some time in October. Interesting fact for the day: we chose the name ‘Kaleidoscope’ for our reserve range because that's what a group of butterflies is called. What's looking like the best of your current vintage? Definitely our Monarch Estate Rosé.  It's not too dry and not too sweet, and you can actually taste strawberries and cream. A plus: many of our rosé fans claim it's the only one that doesn't give them a headache!

Humourous anecdote (rookie mistake / you can laugh about it now)?  We wondered what we'd got ourselves into when, at our first Matakana Winegrowers AGM, Bruce Taylor of Contour Estate introduced himself to us by saying "Hi, I'm Bruce, I used to be filthy rich, then I bought a vineyard, now I'm just filthy!'

Where do you sell your wines?  Our wines are sold through The Vintry Wine Bar in Matakana and a couple of other local outlets. We have an online cellar door where you can buy our wines direct:

Varieties at Monarch Estate Grapes - Chardonnay and Merlot

Wines - Chardonnay, Merlot, Rose, Sparkling Rose

Photo credit: Louise M Photography



How did we come to Winegrowing?

The short answer is that we like drinking wine. This also dictated to some extent, the grape varieties planted and wine styles made. Simply, it is about making wines we like to drink. We did a couple of vintages in Nelson in 1991 and 1992, at Glover’s Vineyard, and got a feel for the potential of winegrowing.

Why Matakana?

Marion and I both had day jobs which we needed to remain in until we started to get an income from selling our wine. We were in Auckland, so the operation needed to be near Auckland. At the time we planted, The Antipodean and Providence had produced some good reds,so here we are, 23 years later.

Favourite wine of ours?

Depends on vintage, drinking occasion, mood, company, weather, food being consumed with, time of day…. They all have their place.

Best of current releases?

We are particularly enjoying our ‘orange’ wine, Compleat PiG, and all the current release reds are drinking very well. The newly released 2016 Vin Gris, made from a dedicated block of cabernet sauvignon is a ripper.

Humorous anecdote

Whilst electioneering one year the sartorially elegant local MP, Lockwood Smith, Minister of Education at the time, turned up at our place. As he walked in the front door of our winery, his trouser pocket became caught in the curved bronze door handle on one of the glass doors. As the door closed, it ripped his trousers right down the outside seam. To his credit Lockwood just sheepishly grinned and walked off to his car, clutching his flayed trousers.

Future plans

We are replanting part of our original cabernet sauvignon block with cabernet franc. Have planted syrah where we formerly had merlot, and chardonnay in part of our pinot gris block. As climate change progresses the whole vineyard will be replaced by pineapples…

Grape Varieties

Whites: Pinot gris, albarino, chardonnay.

Reds: Cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, carmenere, syrah.

Runner Duck Estate


How did you come to winemaking / winegrowing - and why in Matakana ?

Farida and I acquired the vineyard estate in Matakana in 2008, with the objective of building a sustainable business producing the best wine possible for consumption solely through the restaurant and cellar door at Plume. To this end we adopted the best practises of the Sustainable Wines programme certification, SWNZ, along with the best winemaker’s advice and facilities available. Only the best vintage crops are harvested, after rigorous crop thinning. Matakana was chosen for its outstanding beauty and as an established wine region on Auckland's doorstep. What's your favourite wine from your vineyard ?

The 2013 Passion Syrah, harvested in beautiful condition fully ripened, it is dark, bold, and dense, showing lots of dark fruits and black pepper notes typical of the variety. It is still a young wine with a wonderful life ahead of it.

What's looking like the best of your current vintage?

From 2016, the Sangiovese in barrel, is looking beautifully lifted and aromatic, with a real charm and youthful appeal.

Humourous anecdote ( rookie mistake / you can laugh about it now ) ?

Nothing in particular, but I’d hate to think how much time we spend, yelling, and waving our arms like crazy, while chasing birds out of the nets each year. Not something I’d ever want to see caught on film

Future Plans ?

We have a 2014 methode traditional sparkling Rose sitting on lees in bottle, which we will be looking to release next year. Something special for the many wedding parties at Plume to consider.

Please list grape varieties at your vineyard , this will be in small print at bottom.

Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese



How did you come to winemaking / winegrowing - and why in Matakana ?

A happy co-incidence of discovering wine while at university at the same time that Lincoln University started its Post Grad Diploma in grape growing and winemaking – it just seemed too perfectly timed not to take advantage of the opportunity.

Coming to Matakana was an easy choice, as we preferred living in a region with winegrowing as part of a diverse and varied environment, rather than the monoculture that it has become in some other regions.

What's your favourite wine from your vineyard ?

The 2010 Merlot Franc Malbec. Made from fantastic fruit in an ideal growing season. It highlights perfectly for me the density, finesse, and elegance that our vineyard and its clay-based soils provide.

What's looking like the best of your current vintage?

The 2016 Takatu Rosé. Pale, dry, and beautifully refreshing.

Humourous anecdote ( rookie mistake / you can laugh about it now ) ?

Many years ago in South Africa, watching a cellar hand turn a newly filled press with the door still open, and ending up knee deep in grapes frantically trying to shovel it all back in.

Future Plans ?

2017 will see our first harvest of Chardonnay to complement our existing wines.

Its a very versatile variety that reflects wonderfully where it comes from. Please list grape varieties at your vineyard , this will be in small print at bottom.

Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec