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Our History

Grapevines were first planted in this small picturesque valley by Englishman Robert Bird.

Bird constructed the Glenvale winery and cellars in 1933 but evidence of occupation stretches back at least 500 years. Heipipi Pa a large fortified Maori village sat atop the hillside basking in the mild microclimate offered by the north-west facing slope. Middens containing the shells of pipi gathered from the nearby lagoon litter the site.

Over-production in the New Zealand wine industry in the early 1980's led to devastating price wars. Amongst the casualties of this era was Glenvale, which went into receivership and was subsequently purchased by George Fistonich, founder of Villa Maria Estate.

The original Glenvale winery included concrete fermentation vats that are still used today and have proved ideal for fermenting Esk Valley’s award winning red wines. The thick concrete walls of the winery, built into the hillside have also proven to be a stable and cool environment for maturing wines.

Today, Esk Valley Estate is run as an independent Hawkes Bay winery, with its own vineyards and winemaking team.