ATA RANGI "new beginning" or "dawn sky" was a barren 5-hectare paddock when Clive Paton bought it in 1980. He was one of a handful of winemaking pioneers in Martinborough, then a forgotten rural settlement, who were attracted to the area by three key features - the localised, free-draining shingle terrace some 20 metres deep, the lowest rainfall records of anywhere in the North Island, and the ... Read more
ATA RANGI "new beginning" or "dawn sky" was a barren 5-hectare paddock when Clive Paton bought it in 1980. He was one of a handful of winemaking pioneers in Martinborough, then a forgotten rural settlement, who were attracted to the area by three key features - the localised, free-draining shingle terrace some 20 metres deep, the lowest rainfall records of anywhere in the North Island, and the proximity to the capital city of Wellington, just an hour away.
Clive, who'd farmed in the area, knew the land well. He chose mainly red varieties - Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah - and set out in pursuit of world class wines. Pinot Noir's potential shone from the start - the early wines widely appreciated for their texture and for their pure fruit expression of the variety. The early days were tough with no income, trees or shelter belts (the Wairarapa is renowned for its relentless, drying nor-westers) and little experience. The first winemakers persevered, sharing knowledge and ideas, as well as equipment and winery space. Clive grew pumpkins and garlic between the rows, carting them to the markets in Wellington.
His faith in the area paid off. Ata Rangi Pinot Noirs have three times won the coveted Bouchard-Finlayson Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. This international recognition came after a decade of gold medal and trophy successes in Australasian wine competitions. Today the wines enjoy an enviable international reputation, with listings in many of the finest restaurants of the world. As Bob Campbell MW notes "It's true - Ata Rangi has the Midas touch with all of its wines."
Ata Rangi expands...
Ata Rangi and the family team have gradually expanded since those early days. Clive's sister Alison, who'd been working in the wine trade in London, purchased 2 hectares adjoining the original block in 1982. Today she looks after admin and finance for the company. Phyll Pattie, formerly a winemaker in her own right, joined Clive in life and business in 1987 and today is responsible primarily for export marketing.
Clive, Phyll and Ali are the equal and exclusive shareholders in Ata Rangi Limited and all three still work in hands-on roles in the business. Head of production is talented winemaker Helen Masters, with oenologist Oliver Masters working part time as technical consultant.
Around 12,000 cases are produced from the 30 hectares of vineyards supplying fruit to the winery. Almost half is exported, mainly to Australia, the EU, USA and Japan. The winery shop welcomes visitors all year around. Hours are 1pm to 3pm midweek, and Noon to 4pm weekends and holidays.
Today, Martinborough is thriving. The charming, leafy wine village - with its cluster of restaurants, cafes and interesting shops centred around a park-like Square - is a popular destination for wine and food-lovers or for those simply seeking a retreat from city life. Read less