The Neylon family has a renowned association with premium exports from the Marlborough region. They helped pioneer the green-lip mussel industry and were the first family to grow, process and export this premium product in the early eighties.
In 1985, the Neylon’s purchased prime vineyard land in the Rapaura and Dillons Point sub-regions, partnering with the Wiffin family in growing orchard fruits and then establishing a grapevine nursery to supply their vineyards and others in the region.
In 2002, they built a winery and in 2007 launched the family wine brand Rapaura Springs.
Brendon Neylon, director of Rapaura Springs, first discovered wine in his early twenties when he lived in the USA as a professional cycler. When he returned home to work for the family business, he began converting land into vineyards and building a winery.
“I brought with me the same commitment and drive that enabled me to succeed on a bike, and an understanding that you need a world-class team around you,” said Neylon. Now, Rapaura Springs has one of the best winemaking teams in the business.
Every wine is influenced by its environment, from the soil to the humidity to the grape itself, and each factor creates a unique product. Rapaura wines are fed by the Rapaura Springs, which filter down from the Southern Alps to the springs at the vineyard.
This pure water feeds the vines through underground aquifers, which means Neylon can dry farm the vineyard.
“The springs represent our home,” said Neylon, “it’s where it all began and where our family live today. There is a real sense of place in our wines.”
“The purity of this water also guides our philosophy,” Neylon added. “in our winemaking, that means minimal inputs and respecting the purity of flavour in our wines, respecting our natural environment and not taking for granted the place we’ve got.”
This philosophy also leads into sustainability. Neylon has made multi-million dollar investments in technology for the vineyard and winery to ensure efficient use of water, which has allowed them to use approximately 40 percent less water than the national average.
“We have a waste-water treatment facility that purifies wastewater used in the winemaking process, allowing it to be reused in our vineyards,” explained Neylon.
“We use a variety of waste minimisation programmes, including grape marc composting, we also plant cover crops and graze sheep in our vineyards to decrease our use of herbicide and help with pest management.”
Neylon’s favourite part of the job is seeing people drink and enjoy Rapaura Springs’ wine.
“We’re a small family-owned business and we know we’ve only got so many vintages on this planet, so we want to make ours count.”