NWWA Top 50 – Waiata Vineyard

The Waiata Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir Rosé are the first wines produced under the new Waiata brand.  Part of the Tiki Wine and Vineyards portfolio of wines, Waiata in Maori is a song and in this instance, referring to a song of celebration, these wines celebrating the Waipara region and the Waiata vineyard with a focus on fruit purity and freshness of taste and flavours.

Owners Royce and Sue McKean returned home to New Zealand with their young family after living abroad for years. Finding a 325-hectare sheep farm in Waipara that was perfectly suited to growing grapes, a bit green behind the ears and with limited funds and no track record to speak of in grapes or wine, they decided it would be their next adventure and dove into it, boots and all.  By the end of 2006, with the Waiata Vineyard in Waipara fully planted, they expanded into Malborough, developing the Tiki, Maui and now the Waiata wine brands and employing an amazing team of people they call the Tiki Whanau.

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

“Produced in Waipara in North Canterbury, as producers our focus is on putting more back into the land than we take - caring for our land sustainably using merino lambs to graze our vineyards in the winter, using liquid seaweeds, molasses and beneficial bacteria and fungi for ground drenching, all help to enrich the soils we grow our grapes in.

The unique geographic positioning of our Waiata vineyard gives us one of the longest grape growing seasons on earth. The cold night time temperatures help capture the acidity and the unmistakable zesty flavours and fragrances that are the hallmark of the wines we produce here.”

What is one of the most rewarding things about winemaking?

“The ability to share something you’ve made with your friends, family and others.  It’s a wonderful thing.”


What was important in making this award-winning wine?

“It all starts in the vineyard with the decision on when to harvest the fruit - when the fruit at its optimum.  We’ll then apply our winemaking technique matching it with the flavour we want to create.”

Food Pairing?

“The Waiata Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is fantastic with seafood – oysters, salmon – and I think it’s great with a Thai green curry too.

We love the Waiata Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 with barbequed salmon.”

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

“For both the Waiata Sauvignon Blanc 2020 and the Waiata Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 this is two to three years.”

Who would your wine appeal to?

“Both of these wines have universal appeal, the Waiata Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 is great in summer with a light meal.  Ideal for al fresco dining.”

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

“Waiata Sauvignon Blanc 2020 expresses the classic aromas of gooseberry and dried herbs matched with a steely minerality reflecting our land in the Waipara Valley. The flavours and structure of the palate complement the underlying tropical fruit notes with citrus background that gives such a unique and refined taste to this delicate and yet dazzling Sauvignon Blanc.

Waiata Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 is youthfully charming and elegantly expressed on the nose showing sweet raspberry, apple, nectarine and lemon peel characters. The palate is equally appealing with bright fruit flavours and smooth mouthfeel finishing long and succulent.”

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

“Joseph Drouhin 2015 Meursault.  This is a French chardonnay that I had with a meal on Skye – the bottle of wine cost more than all the food, but it really was worth it!”


Founders: Royce and Sue McKean

Current Owner: Royce and Sue McKean

Winemaker: Evan Ward

Location: Based in North Canterbury

Wine varietals produced: Tiki Wine and Vineyards produces Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon across the brands we produce.