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Felton Road bought for $3m

Published:  23 July, 2008

Greening plans to up production to 200 tonnes by 2006

The highly-regarded Felton Road winery in New Zealand has been bought for about $3 million by an English experimental wine grower, ahead of an unnamed major North Island winery. Nigel Greening, 50, from Surrey, beat off competition for the top-end property in the Bannockburn district of central Otago, on New Zealand's South Island. Winemaker Blair Walter will remain in place. In a move that may not please his UK and US distributors, Greening will leave some wines in bottle for 24 months, despite the clamour of UK and US markets for more supplies. UK importer Christopher Fielden, managing director of Wine Source, said he was not worried about the planned changes, but admitted that demand is strong in the UK market. Greening already owns three other properties in the area, including a 25-acre experimental vineyard, Cornish Point, near to Felton Road. The vineyard contained blocks of Pinot Noir in 23 combinations of rootstock and clone. The winery is famous for its Pinot Noir, but also produces Chardonnay and Riesling. There is, surprisingly for a New Zealand winery, no Sauvignon Blanc planned for production. This is because, said Greening: "The land is too precious: I need as much as possible for Pinot Noir. Anyway, Chardonnay is very underrated from the region." The most in-demand wine, Pinot Noir "Block 3" retails at $70 in the USA, and 20-22 in the UK. Greening said he will increase production for this wine from 35 tonnes to 200 tonnes by 2006.