About Us

The vineyard

The magic is made courtesy of our location right beside the Ruamahunga River. This gives us the perfect mix of soil (light alluvial river deposits over a shingly gravel substrate) providing a free draining environment for the hardest workers at Cottier Estate - our vines.

The vines are also pretty happy about the climate they find themselves in at Cottier Estate. At latitude 41 south, we've got the ideal microclimate. The hot summer days with cool nights combined with long gentle autumns would ensure the grapes to reach perfect ripeness to then be turned into some very special wines for you.

The history

In 1858 a Cottier ancestor, Francois, set sail from Plouézec, France, to Lyttelton, New Zealand, where he laboured as a whaler off the shores of the South Island.

Determined to be a success in his chosen land, Francois became Francis and fervently saved his pennies. Tired of the brutality of whaling, he bought land in Canterbury. Francis wrote to his siblings and ailing mother in France about his adventures, telling them he wished to replicate some of his homeland by planting a small vineyard. He urged his brother Pierre to leave France, to join him in New Zealand and to bring cuttings from French vines. Regretfully Pierre wrote back: ‘I am afraid the news is most poor concerning the cuttings. An illness has struck the vines of France. We no longer have grapes and cannot enjoy the little wine they once produced. I am sorry you will not fulfill your dream of having some of home in your new country.’ (12 November 1881).

Three generations later Francis’ great grandson, Peter Francis Cottier, his wife Yvonne, daughter Katherine and sons Sam, Luke, Joe and Nick, have adopted the hardy seaman’s dream. Three nineteenth century whaling harpoons represented on the Cottier label are a nod to Francis and his adventurous spirit. They are also a reminder that times change – the slaughter of whales 150 years ago lured many young men to New Zealand’s shores. Now, the beauty, gentleness and magnificence of those same species attract the awe and wonder of travellers, adventurers and tourists alike.

The people

Pete Mason and Karen Delehanty took over Cottier Estate in Early April 2016, the week of Harvest ! Pete from a corporate background and Karen an interior designer were taken by the beauty and tranquillity of the area.

Pete when visiting Harvest festival in 2015 fell in love with the location and when he tasted the "Emily" Chardonnay was taken aback by the subtle oak and intense fruit flavour. As good as any he had tasted. Although from Wellington Pete had spent his school years in the Wairarapa.

Karen hails from a Sheep and Beef farm in Northern Wairarapa and this is homecoming for her. She too rated the Chardonnay very highly and is in touch with the land that Cottier sits on.

Pete and Karen have parallels with the Cottiers both having ancestors who arrived in New Zealand as Whalers. So the Cottier logo is very apt and will remain for future vintages.

The Estate is run in a collaborative manner, working with local contractors and local winemaker Paddy Borthwick. The family owned vineyard aims to create wines that show off the local terroir and exceptional climate that is Dakins Road.