The Bush Block
The Bush Block
As told by Phyll
Clive loves trees. He is in awe of them. We suspect his love of trees is even greater and more durable than his love for Pinot Noir! He tells of helping his grandfather plant hundreds on a Waikato farm, in an era when most others were chopping them down. In 2001, having successfully ‘greened’ the originally bare Ata Rangi paddock and led a number of extensive community tree-planting projects, he was restless. “I’ve seen some land I’d love us to buy” he told us. “I know we don't have the money, but we have to get it. It’s very rough country… stock are annihilating the native bush and tree saplings, and it's covered in gorse." Great.
To say that Ali and I weren't impressed is something of an understatement...but Clive’s perseverance is legendary. Ten years later we're all in love with this special place that we've dubbed 'The Bush Block' and impressed by the astounding progress made. Rata trees that Clive propagated from local seed and cuttings now taller than him and already in flower. Thousands of native trees and shrubs planted. Whole families of fat kereru feasting on titoki and matai berries. Lush undergrowth thriving with stock now fenced out. A cleaned up Waihora stream meandering past the old hut…even running water and a long drop! The outdoor bath's a work-in-progress, but a grape picking bin filled with water heated over an open fire does a pretty good job.
As well as getting stuck into the gorse - with alot of help from Ali - Clive encouraged neighbouring landowners to form the 'Waihora Watch'. Together they've fenced off the stream and secured funding for intensive pest control over a total of 1000 hectares. This program has dealt to hundreds of stoats, possums, weasels, rats, hedgehogs and wildcats.
The Bush Block backs onto the Aorangi range on the eastern side of the valley, 20 km south of Martinborough. Almost half of the 130 ha is now protected by a DOC (Department of Conservation) covenant on the title, preventing it from ever being grazed or felled. In other parts Clive and his green-team have planted 10,000 ground-durable Eucalypts to supply untreated vineyard posts for Ata Rangi future needs. Preparing the ground for this was a massive feat in itself, with weeks spent on the vineyard tractor ripping deep lines through the gravels.
Our involvement with the restoration of New Zealand's iconic red-flowering native RATA trees led to a close association with Project Crimson, and was the inspiration for our younger vines Pinot Noir, called simply: Crimson.