NWWA Top 50 – Church Road

Established in 1847, Church Road is one of the oldest working wineries in New Zealand. Our winemakers have long been at the forefront of Hawke’s Bay winemaking, beginning with the legendary Tom McDonald.  Tom’s passion for wine saw him forge a remarkable legacy, producing New Zealand’s first widely available Cabernet Sauvignon in 1949, making him the pioneering father of quality winemaking in the Hawke’s Bay. This passion continues today with Chief Winemaker, Chris Scott and his team believing that “Excellence stems from mastering the details and knowing when to trust your instinct”.

SupermarketNews spoke to Chris Scott, chief winemaker to talk about the brands’ excellence and mastering those details to become an award-winning drop.

What characteristics of your wine are influenced by the physical landscape of your winery?

“The Hawke’s Bay region is special due to the combination of soil type and climate and allows our winemakers to let the exceptional product speak for itself through low intervention winemaking processes. The maritime climate of Hawke’s Bay means moderate temperatures producing wines with lovely ripeness and volume while retaining freshness. This results in red wines leading into a fresh fruit spectrum as opposed to dry or pruney.”

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“Winemaking is a complex and ever-changing process and we are constantly learning new techniques and strategies. Experiencing the final product of your hard work, particularly over the course of several years, and showcasing the exceptional quality of Hawke’s Bay wines, is an incredibly rewarding experience.”


“The Church Road Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2019 is a complex, soft and finely textured Chardonnay with aromas of roasted nuts, toasted brioche and a hint of smoke. It is a flavourful, multidimensional Chardonnay with a core of ripe stone fruit and fragrant citrus and a gentle acidity providing freshness.

The Church Road Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a classic Hawke's Bay red, full of plum, berry fruit and a long, luxurious finish. Think rich plum, berry fruit and fragrant spice, violet and hints of woody herb.”

What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“We pride ourselves on low intervention winemaking with minimally processed wines. Church Road’s red wines are all unfiltered, whilst much of the Chardonnay is wild fermented rather than using commercially available packaged yeast.”

Food Pairing?

“The Church Road Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay pairs well with seafood and poultry, especially those with an element of creaminess.

The Church Road Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon matches well to a range of meat and game or robust vegetarian dishes, particularly those displaying more earthy or savoury elements such as mushrooms, eggplant and cheese.”

How long can you shelf your winning bottle of wine for?

“The Church Road Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2019 can be enjoyed immediately, but will reward up to 4 years aging, while the Church Road Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 can be cellared for up to 10 years.”

Who would your wine appeal to?

“Lovers of old school Chardonnay will appreciate the creamy texture and complex oaky notes of the Church Road Chardonnay, but it’s still fresh with fragrant fruit and a gentle texture that gives it broader appeal.

The Merlot Cabernet is quite dense and powerful with loads of dark fruit, and will appeal to those that appreciate complex, flavourful reds.”

How would you describe this wine to someone who's never had this grape varietal/blend before?

“For the Chardonnay think peaches, citrus, lemon blossom, cream, toasted brioche, nuttiness, toasty oak and a whiff of smoke. Whilst the Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon contains dark plum and blackberry fruit, hints of cedar, lavender, thyme, and underlying dark chocolate notes.”

If you could do a wine bottle swap with any winery in NZ or the world, which winery and wine would it be with?

“I would love to swap wine with Romanée-Conti. They produce some of the finest wine in the world and I’ve never had the pleasure of trying them.”


Founders: Tom McDonald

Current Owner: Pernod Ricard Winemakers

Winemaker: Chris Scott

Location: Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Wine varietals produced:

Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Merlot, Tempranillo, Marzemino, Malbec