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New Generation

The Searle Family
New custodians of Matawhero

Purchased by the Searle family in 2008, the 15 hectare Matawhero Estate needed revitalising and replanting. The old Matawhero Cellar Door at Riverpoint Road reopened in November 2008 and faithfully portrays that idiomatic character the brand is so much loved for. This heritage label now lives on...

In many ways the story of the Searle family mirrors that of the origins of Matawhero... Father Philip, an electrician by trade and a bakery owner to earn a crust, uproots his family to become a man of the land. The Brunton Road block is bought, cropped and then planted in grapes. Young(ish) son Richard, having had enough of the good life in London, decides to return to NZ to marry an Aussie, Kirsten, who just happens to work for Villa Maria. They return to Gisborne with dreams of transforming a fabulous vineyard into a world class wine producer and thus Brunton Road was born.

After 5 years cutting their teeth in the wine trade, establishing a label from scratch, an opportunity arises that is simply too irresistible to refuse. Matawhero is for sale!

For all its heritage status within the NZ wine industry, Matawhero represents an enormous challenge. The roof in the home leaks into buckets strategically placed throughout the bedrooms, and the vineyard and surrounding property looks like something from the Lost World - and we haven't even mentioned the winery. Enter negotiations with Matawhero icon, Denis Irwin. Torn between parting with his baby of 30 years, and the excitement of seeing it passed to something other than a corporate brand portfolio, Denis opts for the later and wills us on.

So Richard and Kirsten, with young family of three children under 5 years old, move to Matawhero with a priority list reading; 1) Fix the house, then 2) re-establish the vineyard, then 3) Produce and relaunch the wine.

As we say, the rest is history...