NWWA Top 50 – Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf Wines was started by Kate Acland (then Hayward) in 2006, straight out of university it was named for the Sugar Loaf islands that like just off the coast where Kate grew up in Taranaki. Initially it was just a small side project but late in 2007 a small vineyard on Rapaura Road with an old winery and apple cider vinegar plant came on the market. Kate bought this and set about getting the winery equipped for harvest 2008. The first harvest was tiny and completely chaotic, but Sugar Loaf has steadily grown, now with 26 ha of vineyard (owned and leased) growing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir and exporting to 12 different countries.

These days Sugar Loaf is a family affair with husband David and three children all pitching in to help over the harvest.

SupermarketNews spoke to founder, Kate Acland, about the winery and its award-winning top drops.

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

“Steep clay slopes mean cool nights and warm days - perfect for Pinot Noir

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“Following the process from the first green shoots in spring in the vineyard, right through to bottle 12 months later - it’s a journey that changes with the season, some seasons are better than others but every single one is memorable.”


The grapes were all hand harvested then 85% destemmed (15% left as whole bunch) before being cold soaked for 7 days to ensure maximum flavour and colour extraction.

Fermentation was in small open top vessels, hand plunged three times a day. Post ferment maceration was for 7 days and free run wine was then transferred to French barrels (25% new) for ageing before a 100% malolactic fermentation in the Spring.


The 2019 Sugar Loaf Pinor Noir is sourced entirely from our hillside vineyard on Marlborough's Southern Valleys, it has lifted aromas of red plum, cocoa and liquorice. The palate is elegant and lingering with summer berries, ripe plum, savoury black pepper and notes of toasty oak with delicate supply tannins.

What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“Great Pinot Noir starts in the vineyard and our team invested a huge amount of time in the vineyard, thinning fruit and positioning canes so that every bunch had full sun exposure. Once we got it into the winery it got a lot of time and attention, plunging 3 times a day by hand.”

Food Pairing?

" Lamb, Beef, Hard or aged Cheese or a spicy desert like ginger poached pears or sticky date pudding.”

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

“This wine will drink well for the next 4-6 years.”

Who would your wine appeal to?

“Anyone who enjoys a smooth silky red.”

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

“The Sugar Loaf Southern Valleys Pinot Noir is smooth and soft in the mouth with a rich floral aroma and flavours that just go on and on.”

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

“Right now I’m dreaming of Sonoma California, lots of our team have spent harvests over there, where they make some sublime.”


Founders: Kate Acland

Current Owners: Kate and David Acland

Winemaker: Cullen Neal

Location: Marlborough

Wine varietals produced: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay.