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  • Kevin Parthonnaud

The Three elements!

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

Banks Peninsula unique Terroir - The First Element.

Akaroa Harbour, on Banks Peninsula, is an incredible and unique little piece of

heaven on earth. Because it used to be an island more than 20 million years ago, it

has its own water supply, biodiversity, micro-climate, soil and energy!

A gigantic volcano erupted 9 million years ago. That volcano continued to be active

for another 2 million years.

Different layers of lava flows and erosion formed the gullies, valleys and outer bays

that are all around the peninsula and for millions of years, the big valley that is now

Akaroa harbour was probably filled with fresh water coming from natural springs and


The collapse of “Akaroa Head” and the rise of sea level 6000 years ago allowed sea

water to enter the crater and formed the present harbour that is now home to some

unique wildlife: dolphin, penguins and many more.

Glaciers that were covering the peninsula during the last ice age carved even more

our beautiful hills and left an incredible amount of silts on top of the volcanic base

and in the harbour.

After the last ice age, the treeless peninsula was very exposed the strong

Norwesterly which carried very fine glacier silts from the southern alps of the South Island

and deposited on top of the volcanic peninsula.

Life took over that bare volcano/clay land and luxurious forest covered the entire

peninsula for thousands of years. The litter of the forest built up a very fertile humus

that is now a 20 cm dark and rich top soil.

There it is!! Our very unique soil profile: Volcanic base with loess. The loess being

made of lose silts and particles of clay and rich top soil.

Our soil is deep, moist and fertile. By not irrigating and letting grass and other

species grow in between the vines, we are making sure that they will go deep, work

harder and give us grapes that will produce very complex wines.

As an organic grower, my goal is to have those roots going down as deep as

possible making them work really hard but allowing them to extract the mineral and

silts from the loess.

No wonder why our wines are so delicate and fresh on the palate!

Terroir is one major element of wine making. The other two are loving the vines and

fermentation but that's for another story!

Renan Cataliotti – French Peak Wine.

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