Our Story

The Story

– The Story

– The People

– The Vineyards

Eaton Wines was established in 2014 after the
families departure from the TerraVin brand which
they had established in 1999.

Mikes involvement in the New Zealand wine
industry goes right back to 1981 when Marlborough
was just beginning its surge onto the international
wines scene. Along with his wife Jo, Mike
established some of New Zealand’s most renowned
Pinot Noir vineyards (Clayvin, Clay Hills, Outpost,
Calrossie) and the TerraVin wine brand.

Consulting to over 1500ha Mike manages the
nutrition and disease programs for premium
growers throughout Marlborough and Nelson.
From among these growers, Mike selects small
parcels from exceptional sites and makes wines in
small batches to best reflect their unique
characteristics.

These selected areas are hand-tended by Mike and
his two sons Harrison and Blake.

– The Story

– The People

– The Vineyards

The People

Mike and Jo Eaton

Mike started his career in the vineyards at 16 years old as a laborer, pruning grapevines in 1981. By 1985 he was employing 60 people and maintaining vineyards for new companies like Cloudy Bay, Hunters, and Allan Scott.

After returning home in 1990 from 6 months
working in France, he bought a parcel of the north-facing hillside, met Jo and got married and
together they developed Marlborough’s first
commercial Pinot Noir hillside vineyard, Clayvin.

Living in a shed, driving every post by hand and enjoying the work that they did on our own small vineyard. Clayvin sold to British Wine merchants Lay and Wheeler and George Fromm in 1998.

In 1999 Mike and Jo together developed the Eaton Family Vineyard and TerraVin wines.
Mike has worked vintages in Sancerre, Burgundy and the Jura learning from some of the most provocative winemakers.

In 2016 Mike started Eaton Crop Care, developing specialised nutrition and disease management programs. He now consults to over 1500ha of vineyards throughout New Zealand.

Harrison Eaton

Harrison was born on the Clayvin vineyard and grew up with a passion for the vineyard and winemaking. Harrison spent several years working in local vineyards before spending time in Auckland city working for a major wine retailer.

In 2016 Harrison returned to Marlborough to spend a vintage as a Cellar hand at Giesen Wines. After which he took a role in the Giesen Wines Organic program which included Clayvin Vineyard. Harrison now works in the family business and heads the NZ sales and assists in all aspects of Winemaking and Viticulture.

In addition, he has begun making some small-batch inspirational “low-fi” wines under the Mélange brand.

Blake Eaton

Blake has spent the past 3 years working in
the family business and assisting in the nutrition
programs and grower relationships.

He manages research trials for organic biological
alternatives for disease management and nutrition. Blake is also responsible for the Research and Development for our clients, working closely with our suppliers establishing trials to replace pesticides and fungicides in our vineyard programs with biological alternatives.

Blake’s true love is also Technology and Design and as a result, has designed our Website and helps with our brand design.

The Vineyards

– The Story

– The People

– The Vineyards

Breezemere – The Cotching Family

The Breezemere vineyard is situated 24km south of Blenheim in the Awatere Valley. Husband and wife team Bryn and Rachel Cotching are no strangers to farming or hard work. Bryn has farming in his veins and Rachel’s family has a long history of growing grapes in Marlborough.

This gentle north-facing slope has been carefully planted in Sauvignon Blanc. The site is free draining and the shallow layer of top-soil over-lays clay bound gravels. Further inland this site has a warmer, nurturing environment that allows the fruit to gain wonderful richness and complexity.

Raupo Vineyard – Upper Omaka Valley Marlborough

Owned and operated by Seresin Wines, the Raupo vineyard is situated on gentle North-facing slopes in the upper Omaka valley and shares latitude 41.57 with Clayvin and Wrekin vineyards. Raupo is farmed with biodynamic Organic methods and has high-density vine spacing between 3500 and 5000 plants per hectare. This is between 2 and 3 times the usual planting density for Marlborough vineyards. This allows the vines to have a very low yield per vine which is essential on the very low fertility soils. Yields are kept very low and irrigation is kept to a minimum as we work to drive the roots deeper into these unique soils.

Constant attention in the vineyard ensures balance and purity that adds to natural site expression. In 2020 we began sourcing a small parcel of selected Chardonnay that was set aside for the Eaton family each season to make our interpretation of this wonderful vineyard site. We feel privileged to work along with the passionate team at Seresin to produce wines that truly express their origin from the Raupo vineyard.

From 2021 we will also add a Raupo Vineyard Pinot Noir made from a mix of clones at exceptionally low yields.

Thistle Hill – Hickman Family

Thistle Hill vineyard is situated 42km south of Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand.

Once ancient seas-bed, this area has had a history of earthquake upheaval as recently as 2016 it was shaken by a massive earthquake that saw its beachline raised 4 meters.

The Hickman Family has farmed here for 3 generations on their Taimate Angus stud. Two sons now share the farming roles with John Hickman overseeing the vineyards, with Paul overseeing the day to day management of the farm.

Thistle Hill is a select parcel of elevated gentle North-facing slope at 130m elevation that is well-drained and frost-free. This is a tough environment; the heat of summer is tempered by cool sea breezes and the winters can be severe.

The vines however also have to work hard, and this shows in the wines. Forced to forage meager reserves in the shallow soils they also pick up the ancient mineral deposits left behind when these hills were once the ocean floor. These hills were formed by upheaval from earthquake activity and the events of November 2016 when the area was rocked by a 7.8 earthquake show these forces are still at work.

The resulting wines have a unique flinty, mineral palate, and a taut linear structure.

Morrison Vineyard – Waimea Plains – Nelson

Owned by Ruth and Rob Morrison, the vineyard is meticulously managed and careful attention is given to vine health and nutrition. The vineyard is sustainably farmed and the Morrison’s are quick to use natural biological methods of managing vine and soil health. Situated on the Waimea Plains in the Tasman region in the North West tip of the South Island, the climate is more temperate than Marlborough with higher autumnal rainfall and a lower incidence of spring and autumn frosts. Here while there is less risk of frost, canopy and yield management is critical as the extra rainfall and humidity add to disease pressure. The Grüner Veltliner is supplied from a small section of their vineyard where we have reduced vines to just 2 canes and vines are shoot thinned. Bunches were thinned and shoulders are removed from the traditionally large bunches allowing the fruit to ripen evenly and retain natural intensity. The extra work and care result in a sublime combination of fruit generosity and minerality from the Waimea gravels. We have worked closely with the Morrison family for several years managing nutrition and disease management so the opportunity to have a small parcel of fruit was welcome.