Meet Steve Voysey, Our Vintner
Please, call me Steve. I've been in the NZ wine industry for most of my life, starting with Montana down in Marlborough. After a few years I was promoted to Gisborne Winemaker and my wife, Eileen, and I moved here with our young family. We intended to stay in Gisborne for three years. That was over 30 years ago.
The rich beauty of Gisborne, mixed with its excellent climate and conditions for growing bewitched me. It wasn't long before we decided to make this our home, and start our own brand of quality wines. After much research here and overseas, I decided I not only wanted to master the traditional Gisborne varietals. but I want explore reds and whites from around the world that are compatible with Gisborne growing conditions. The range I have developed over the years lets us make single variety and single vineyard wines, and gives me the potential for innovative blending. It also lets me have fun. I like to approach winemaking with an open mind. The goal is always to make a more complete wine, but not to lose the type of grape, or where it comes from.
The beauty of the vineyard in Gisborne conjured up stories Steve heard from his grandfather about a special place called Spade Oak Farm near the River Thames in Bourne End, England. His grandfather had lived on and managed the farm for years. His love of that land made a lasting impression. When we bought our vineyard in Gisborne, we felt as though we were embarking on a similar story – finding a place that pulls at your heartstrings a little, finding a place that feels like home.
To create our own piece of history, we planted two oaks at the entranceway to the farm lane. Later plantings of pin and scarlet oaks – as well as a small grove of cork oaks by the farm shed – are now well established and tower over the property.
In a new chapter to our story, we have sold the vineyard and moved to a new place in town. This gives Steve a chance to concentrate on making wine, and we get to support the local growers by buying their grapes.
A Bit of History
In 1993 we purchased half of a vineyard and began producing our own wines. In 1996, we bought the remaining half of the vineyard, increasing our holdings to 17 hectares.
In 2007, the time was ripe to make our mark on the Gisborne wine scene with a range of Spade Oak wines, starting with the limited release of a Gisborne Chardonnay and Viognier.
There is a world of difference between waving goodbye to your fruit as it’s driven away in a truck and seeing things all the way through to a bottle of wine with your name on it. The creation of our own label has kindled a passion for the brand, to see where this might take us. It also meant the freedom to make wine the way we want to.
Spade Oak wines soon garnered critical approval and major international awards. More importantly, we demonstrated what the Gisborne region could offer – wines of complexity, elegance and power, with ripe, weighty characteristics enlivened by the pure flavours of fresh fruit.
We then launched a second label “Heart of Gold,” for benchmarking the new alternative varieties and for making blended wines. Some of these varieties were virtually untested in New Zealand. The Heart of Gold label gave us freedom to experiment until we find a variety’s ‘sweet spot,’ at which point we can confidently make a reserve offering under the Spade Oak label.
We recently made the hard decision to sell the vineyard. The long days of sitting on the tractor after a day at work are thankfully over. But we continue making Spade Oak wines by selecting grapes from other Gisborne growers. Additionally, consulting brings the joy and challenge of working for a number of other wine brands from Gisborne.