Timeline

Location

Matawhero a locality 7kms west of Gisborne is home to the oldest building in the East Coast district. The school room was built in the 1860s.

1860

Location

On the 9th and 10th of November the Matawhero Tragedy occured in the settlement of Matawhero. This is one of New Zealand's most well known war events where approx 100 Te Kooti warriers attached the Pakeha village killing between 51 and 74 people.

1868

Location

In 1872 the Presbyterian Church brought the Matawhero Schoolhouse, the only structure left standing after the Matawhero Tragedy and it became a Church.

1872

Location

W. N. Irwin (Bill) is born in Gisborne. Considered the father of modern viticulture in New Zealand, it was his drive and enthusiasm that led to the importation of new grape varieties from Europe and America into New Zealand from 1969-1970.

1910

Location

Bill purchases the land at Riverpoint Road at a time when people either raised livestock or grew maize on the Poverty Bay flats.

1968

Location

The vineyards supply contract grapes for the local wineries. As a bookseller with no horticultural background, people laughed at Bill all the time, but the clones propagated by Matawhero were taken up by most NZ vineyards to form the basis of the emerging industry.

1969

Location

To gain overseas experience Denis worked in wineries in South Africa and Germany. In Germany he worked at the Breisack winery on the Alsace-German border.

1970

Location

Denis returns to New Zealand determined and inspired to establish a winery run on similar lines as the family wineries he had worked in overseas.

1974

Location

The first wines are produced under the Matawhero label. The label features the image of the Matawhero Church, the district’s oldest confirmed building. The building started its life as a school room and it was of the few buildings to survive the Maori and European conflict in the area in the 1860s.

1975

Location

Matawhero first gained international recognition at the World Wine Show in Paris where it achieved overall fourth place for the 1976 Gewürztraminer.

1977

Location

On her visit to New Zealand, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is served the 1976 Matawhero Traminer Riesling at a dinner in her honour at the Prime Minister’s residence, Vogel House in Wellington.

1977

Location
1978

The 1978 Matawhero Gewürztraminer is awarded a Gold Medal at the NZ National Wine Competition.

1978

Location
1983

By now Matawhero is also developing a considerable reputation internationally for their wines with the following accolades; 1980 Chardonnay, sixth place in a New York showing of New World Chardonnays and wins Gold at the NZ Easter Show; Gold Medal at the NZ National Wine Competition for the 1981 Traminer Riesling; The 1982 Chardonnay achieved 8 out of 100 in a wine show in New York; The 1981 Matawhero Gewürztraminer is awarded a Gold Medal at the NZ Easter Show; Gold medal at the NZ National Wine Competition for the 1982 Traminer Riesling; Gold medal for the 1983 Matawhero Merlot at the NZ National Wine Competition and The Matawhero 1980 Chardonnay is awarded 9th position out of 80 Chardonnays tasted in the English wine magazine “Decanter” wine tasting.

1979 – 1984

Location

Swiss born winemaker Hatch Kalberer joins the winemaking team at Matawhero.

1983

Location
Letter From

Mr Denis Irwin receives a royal telegram from the Queen thanking him for the wine he sent to Buckingham Palace after her visit to New Zealand in 1978, “Her Majesty much looks forward to sampling and enjoying the wine”.

1983

Location

W.N Irwin passes away in May. The 2.5 hectare Bridge Estate vineyard was established in memory of Bill.

1985

Location

Cyclone Bola causes devastation in the Gisborne/East Coast region. Matawhero fortunately survives the brunt, however the crops for this year are down 50% and they decide only the best fruit will go into the Matawhero label.

1988

Location
Rose

“Matawhero Magic” or the Matawhero Rose is launched by well-known rose breeder Sam McGredy along with Denis. This is named in memory of his father, Bill.

1998

Location

The last year the Irwin’s make any wine of significant volume.

1999

Location

Denis sells the bottom block of the Matawhero vineyard to Montana leaving approximately 38 acres and the winery.

2000

Location
2008

The Searle Family purchases the Matawhero vineyard and winery at Riverpoint Road from Denis Irwin. The vineyard needs revitalising and replanting. Denis was pleased to the see the vineyard remain as a family business rather than being swallowed up by the big boys and comments, “It was like handing over the baton. It’s great for the district”.

2008

Location

The first of the new release Matawhero wines are released. This heritage label now lives on……

2009

Location
2010

The cellar door officially re-opens at Riverpoint Road in October. The old Matawhero Cellar Door faithfully portrays that idiomatic character the brand is so much loved for.

2010

Location
2017

The Church House series of wines are released and include several new clones imported by Gisborne company Riversun. Our Church House series is a collection of small and unique parcels of wine that serve as a tribute to this historic building and is inspired by the pioneering spirit of our founders.

2011

Location
Matawhero Irwin Chardonnay

Our flagship “Irwin” Chardonnay is released as a tribute to the founders of Matawhero, Bill and Denis Irwin.

2017

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