NWWA Top 50 – Lawson’s Dry Hills

Ross and Barbara Lawson planted the first vineyard in 1981, Gewurztraminer on Alabama Road in Blenheim and supplied to other producers at the time. They launched Lawson’s Dry Hills label in 1992.

SupermarketNews chatted to winemaker Marcus Wright about what sets Lawson’s Dry Hills above the rest.

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

“Our vineyards are throughout the Marlborough region, encompassing the Wairau Valley, Southern Valleys and Awatere Valley. Each provides different characters that help us blend to a consistent style especially our Sauvignon Blanc. The Reserve Chardonnay is from just one however, our coastal vineyard in the Wairau Valley.”

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“Producing chardonnay is nearly the opposite of our other white wines, which are aromatic styles – we are trying to subdue the wines’ fruit character and encourage layers of other flavour through wild ferment in barrel and extended lees contact. It’s a bit more about the winemaking!”


“Citrus, beeswax, smoke and lemon combine to produce a wonderfully complex nose. The palate is full and rich with a lovely mealy texture yet possess enough acidity retain lovely elegance.”

What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“Our most important decision is deciding when to pick. We are waiting for the acidity to drop but without getting excessive sugar accumulation as the grapes ripen. And we need to maximise flavour development. Once the grapes are picked we can’t put them back on the vine!”

Food Pairing?

“This is a great food wine – roast chicken or pork, full-flavoured white cheeses, rich fish dishes, grilled white meats, mushrooms, roasted red capsicum, butternut squash and pumpkin, creamy sauces, risottos, pasta dishes – and lots more!”

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

“10 years.”

Who would your wine appeal to?

“This wine will make any Chardonnay drinker happy but also anyone looking for a white wine with depth and complexity.”

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

“Barrel-fermented Chardonnay is a mixture of fruit, oak and yeast lees character. Lemon and nectarine flavours, layered with beeswax, vanilla and smoky oak character. A rich, textural palate with lovely balance and depth.”

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

“It would have to be with a white burgundy producer. Someone producing Chardonnay from Corton-Charlemagne. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and this is reflected in the outstanding wines.”


Founders: Ross and Barbara Lawson

Current Owner: Tim and Pauline Evill, Sion and Biddy Barnsley, Marcus and Megan Wright

Winemaker: Marcus Wright

Location: Alabama Road, Blenheim, Marlborough

Wine varietals produced:

Sauvignon Blanc


Pinot Gris



Pinot Noir