Spy Valley: Stories

The Johnson Family

Award winning, sustainably crafted wines that capture the unique time and place of every harvest. A family owned estate, hidden in the heart of Marlborough New Zealand, one of the world’s purest wine regions.

The 1990s were a time of discovery and courage in Marlborough. Deep in the Waihopai Valley, Bryan and Jan Johnson had the audacity to establish 180 hectares of estate vineyards on land considered too hard, too dry and too unfertile for wine.

It was a venture that started with a passion for the land. This pioneering spirit established one of New Zealand’s most successful family-run wineries, now exporting six varietals to 35 countries.

Waihopai Valley isn’t the sort of place you stumble across. Hidden in the depths of the Southern Valleys, they share the Waihopai with an international satellite communication station that finds the terroir perfect for spying too. It’s an intriguing part of the world, one that we invite you to taste and discover…

Today, Spy Valley’s commitment remains to the land and to the people who tend it – “We are simply farmers at heart, nurturing soil and vine to cultivate the complexities in our wine. And we’re mindful that it’s our focus on sustainability which will ensure our guardianship of this land for generations to come.”

Not befitting the world of espionage, Spy Valley’s wine has demanded global attention the wine has been called “impossible to ignore”. Fine accolades, but you be the judge.

YEAR FOUNDED: Vineyard: planted in 1993, first vintage released 2000

PROPRIETORS: Amanda Johnson

WINEMAKERS: Wendy Stuckey and Emily Gaspard-Clark

SIZE OF PROPERTY: 162+ hectares (400+ acres) // 154 hectares (380 acres) planted

TERROIR: Spy Valley’s vineyards are located on mostly young alluvial river terraces with veins of stone and shingle overlaid with a thin veneer of topsoil. Older terraces have a higher clay content and deeper top-soils overlaying free draining river gravel and stone. Lesser area of steep hillside slopes containing a thick layer of wind blown clay soil. The valley sees less than 1,100 mm (43 inches) of rain annually, and 200 mm (8 inches) of rain through the October-May growing season. Spring carries the risk of frost, and summers are hot with peaks in January and February of more than 30°C (86°F).

ANNUAL PRODUCTION: 150,000 cases

VARIETIES CULTIVATED: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Syrah