The Esk Valley Estate at Bay View was first established under the name Glenvale in 1933. Englishman Robert Bird constructed the winery and cellars which included open topped concrete vats for fermenting port and sherry wines and enclosed concrete storage tanks under the floor. The concrete vats have become a hallmark of Esk Valley and proved ideal for fermenting award winning red wines. Glenvale created the brand Esk Valley for a range of premium table wines in the 1970’s but became a casualty of devastating over- production and industry price wars in the 1980’s. After going into receivership Glenvale was purchased by proprietor Sir George Fistonich in 1987.
Recognising the potential of the site, Sir George Fistonich had the pine trees covering the unseen terraced hillside cut down and sold, replanting it with Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, thus creating the majestic Terraces vineyard. Made by winemaker Grant Edmond, the inaugural blend from this vineyard became known as ‘The Terraces’, nowadays recognised as one of New Zealand’s most iconic red wines.
Grant Edmond transferred to Villa Maria in 1993 and recommended Gordon Russell, assistant winemaker at the time, to step into the role. As Head Winemaker Gordon has built Esk Valley’s reputation for crafted wines over the last 25 years.
The Esk Valley winery has seen many changes in this time – all of which raised the quality of the wines. Today, Esk Valley is taking another step in its quality journey as the winemaking site moves to the Gimblett Gravels. Located closer to the vineyards, fruit can be processed within minutes of being picked ensuring the purity of the vineyard can be captured in even greater detail. Esk Valley fans will be pleased to hear that new concrete fermenters are being utilised in the new site and it remains an independently run Hawkes Bay winery and wine making team.