Pukeora Estate has been very fortunate to have Michael Bennett as our previous winemaker. Michael has done a brilliant job of establishing the winery in the bathroom basement of the original sanatorium buildings (see our History page). After many days of jack hammering stall walls out the winery shell was prepared. The original floor was already in place with wash down floors complete with drains.
Stainless steel wine fermentation and storage tanks with overall capacity of 23,000 litres are located around the winery periphery. Open plunge tanks are moved in during vintage for pinot noir fermentation. Various other tanks are located outside holding up to another 22,000 litres. Numerous oak barriques are moved in after vintage to make up additional capacity for aging the wine.
An adjacent basement is used as an extra barrel hall allowing more use of barrels.
The primary equipment for vintage is a Rauke crusher/destemmer capable of 4t/hour, a Vaslin PHP130 horizontal screw press for quantities of up to 1 tonne and a Willmes 2300 bag press for bigger volumes.
Maximum capacity is up to about 40 tonnes per year, with up to 34T handled currently.
Max Annabell with much initial guidance from Michael has taken on the role as winemaker since the 2005 vintage.
2004 Vintage: The 1st commercial harvest produced 9 tonnes of grapes.
2006 Vintage: A steady build of heat through spring with no major weather events set us up with a fine fruit set to enter into summer. A warm dry period in 2006 was broken by a little rain in March and a warm finish to Autumn with about 90% harvested before heavy rain in late April. A very satisfying vintage, good quality fruit and 19 tonnes picked.
Bronze medals were won for the Pinot Noir and the The Benches.
2007 Vintage: A cooler first half of the season resulted in a poorer fruit set. The later half was warm and very dry. Only 8 tonnes of great fruit were picked. The Pinot Noir was recommended by Winestate Magazine with 3 *'s. The Benches 07 is the most concentrated wine produced so far and is still drinking well now.
2008 Vintage: A challenging year. A cruel frost scorched much of the vineyard in October. The Vintage of 13 tonnes was late and ripening took time to complete. We don't recommend long cellaring of our 2008 wines.
2009 Vintage: Generally a straight forward year with a very warm autumn and a fairly early vintage. 16 tonnes of lovely ripe fruit were produced. The Benches should still be drinking well but recommend other 2009 wines should be drunk.
2010 Vintage: Mostly a challenging season but saved by a long warm dry autumn resulting in a record 34 tonnes of lovely clean, ripe fruit. Wet in January (225 mm rain) but vintage delayed but was a bumber crop and mostly good fruit. (Gold Medal Chardonnay !)
2011: A season with modest ripening - no Benches produced, good for whites and Pinot Nor.
2012: What 2012 ? Best to forget ! Ok for whites but forgettable for reds !
2013: Wonderful seaon. Great ripeness across the sprectrum. Gold Medal for The Benches !
2014: Another good vintage.
2015: And another good year.
2016: Vintage being warm and dry produced some lovely fruit albeit a modest sized crop.
2017: started cool but was a hot mid summer summer. A worrying autumn with 3 passing cyclones dropping unprecedented rain. The grapes held up and we picked 20 tonnes of fruit in great condition.