I am sure everyone is aware of the Tohu wine brand, owned by Wakatu Incorporation, but many will not know that it recently launched a new brand.
Kono Beverages is now the overarching division name within Wakatu for its wine business, and the Tohu brand is now used exclusively for wines produced from fruit grown in their Awatere Valley and Waihopai Valley vineyards in Marlborough. The new Aronui wines are made from fruit grown in Nelson, mainly from their Whenua Matua vineyards in the Moutere Hills, supplemented by fruit grown in other parts of the region.
Jonny Hiscox is the man responsible for managing the Whenua Matua vineyards and producing the fruit for the Aronui wines. His role is not only to grow great grapes but to care for the land - something that is fundamental to the owners. This, along with an artisan approach to winemaking, are guiding philosophies for the owners.
Whenua Matua means "significant land", and the word Aronui derives from ancient Maori mythology about the pursuit of knowledge, including the arts and working with the land. Both names reflect the importance to the owners of the ancestral land at Upper Moutere.
The land development that Jonny has overseen in recent years includes planting lots of native trees and flaxes in areas of Whenua Matua not suitable for planting grapes. His hard work and dedication have created a wonderful environment that delivers more than just good wines.
The finished product in the bottle has direct links to ancestral land, something that is not lost on Jonny as he goes about his work.
A lot of effort has been made to ensure the vineyards are certified as Sustainable Vineyards and all the wines are carboNZero-certified.
The result of this hard work is fruit from quite young vines that delivers big flavours with structural elements that come directly from the Moutere clay soils. At this stage, only two of the four newly released wines are made from fruit grown at Whenua Matua (pinot gris and pinot noir), while the sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are made from fruit grown near Brightwater. These, as well as other aromatic-style varieties, are also being grown at Whenua Matua, so eventually the vast majority of wines produced under the Aronui label will be grown there.