8,000 vines grown on clay slopes.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE AREA
Omata Estate lies on the Kororareka/Russell Peninsula in the Bay of Islands. Kororareka translates into English as “how sweet is the penguin”, which refers to the Maori legend of a dying chief being fed broth made from the blue penguins that were, and still are, present in the region today.
Okiato, at the base of the Russell peninsular, was the first capital of New Zealand, and played host to New Zealand’s first settlers. The Bay of Islands saw the drafting and signing of both the Declaration of Independence for the Confederation of United Chiefs and the Treaty of Waitangi; an agreement between the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand and the incoming British.
Omata was a functioning manganese mine for a short period in the 1830’s. The estate makes up 70 acres bought by Captain John Wright in 1831. The property of Omata shares boundaries with the original 220 acres brought in 1830 by James Clendon. Omata’s property purchase agreement, complete with sale price of muskets, blankets, money and other various items, hangs in the Omata Estate Vineyard to this day.
At Omata, Captain Wright experimented with market gardening to provision the visiting shipping, one of the first Europeans in New Zealand to compete with the then-thriving Maori trade. On the water’s edge below Omata’s vineyard, Captain Wright built one of the first stores in the Bay of Islands. Among other things, the store supplied the arms and ammunition so coveted by Maori at the time. It was at Wright’s Omata store that one of the first recorded burglaries in New Zealand took place. The culprits were caught, sent to Sydney for trial, and hung. Captain Wright and his stepdaughter sailed to Sydney to witness justice administered.
James Busby is widely regarded as the forefather of the Australian wine industry before he arrived in New Zealand. Busby collected vine stock from Spain and France to propagate in Australia. He continued his passion for wine when he was sent to New Zealand and planted vines right here in the Bay of Islands.
Here at Omata, nearly 200 years on from Busby’s arrival, we have established ourselves as one of Northlands premier wine growing sites. Having been in operation since 1990 we are as passionately committed as Busby ever was. The fertile soils and climate that place our country as a world leader in agriculture, work alongside the long sunshine hours and warm sea breezes to produce consistently stunning wines. Using traditional methods we continue Busby’s vision to provide bold, flavoursome, full-bodied wines of the finest quality.
Omata has approximately 8000 vines made up of Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes. Each of the varieties has been planted in carefully selected sites within the vineyard to maximize the microclimates. Omata’s vines grow on clay slopes within a stones throw of the ocean - the sea breezes maintaining a long and even season. All of our vines are carefully hand tended and our wines are produced using traditional techniques.
“A man who could sit under the shade of his own vines with his wife and children about him, the ripe clusters hanging within their reach, in such a climate as this, and not feel the highest enjoyment is incapable of happiness and does not know what the word means.”
James Busby, (Date Unknown)