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In the early 1970s Karl Heinz Johner studied Oenology and Viticulture in Geisenheim / Germany. In those days he always dreamed of traveling to Australia and visiting the vineyards “down-under”. But having a young family with two little children it all remained a dream until his son Patrick was sent off, in 1998 as a young man, to complete a vintage in Australia. And as you can imagine, for Karl, it was finally a great excuse to visit the vineyards of Australia and pick up his son…
Together with a student colleague of Patrick’s, the Australian trip culminated in a ‘Pinot Noir World Tour’ visiting New Zealand and then Oregon and Northern California before returning home to Germany.
They returned home with a big grin on their faces and a plan to set up a second winery in New Zealand.
Yes, in those days, and still, New Zealand showed a booming spirit. Growing grapes under these conditions was fun, with naturally low yields, great fruit and high quality wines. Land prices, a little away of the main wine regions, were still affordable. Karl, Patrick and a business colleague started off their enterprise in 1998 with a little winery and their very first Southern hemisphere wines. Unfortunately a difference of opinion arose with the partner in 2000 and so in 2001 Karl and Patrick started over again building up a new vineyard next to the Ruamahanga River near Masterton. Meanwhile in Germany, customers were asking to taste our New Zealand wines and such was the demand that just two years later we presented our German market with the first of our New Zealand Pinot Noir. This European export market has developed substantially and forms an important aspect of our New Zealand operation.