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In searching for a property to develop in the late 1990’s Brian and Cheryll Sanders found themselves being drawn to the challenge of some kind of horticultural venture “on the edge”. The Cromwell Basin in Central Otago, with its stunning scenery and relaxed lifestyle, proved to be the perfect place in which to live the dream.
Having finally decided on a parcel of 28 hectares on Mt Pisa Station, the first challenge proved to be riding out the tediously lengthy Tenure Review process that Mt Pisa Station owners, Murray and Jacky McMillan, faced. Having committed to the land the next step was how to develop it given that at that time it lay beyond the “wine belt” of the Cromwell Basin.
A passion for fine wine, the growing reputation of the region as a great Pinot Noir producer, and an informative and encouraging session with viticulturist Robin Dicey, the decision was made to take the plunge and pursue viticulture, the vision being to produce fine Pinot Noir.
Reassured by Murray (owner of Mt Pisa Station), in the true spirit of a gentleman’s agreement, that as far as he was concerned the land belonged to Brian and Cheryll , the first vines were finally planted three years after signing the contract and six months before having legal title.
Vines were planted late in 2003 after the installation of an irrigation and frost-fighting system. Since spring 2003 was warm the vines took off with vigor and after 6 weeks, some reached the top wire and were described by Robin Dicey as “crazy snakes”. Feeling this was a good omen, the vineyard was extended the following year to include two hectares of Gewürztraminer.