Our Story

The panoramic views from the top of Fancrest Estate's alluvial limestone fan are magnificent!

Fancrest Estate is set on the brow (or crest) and slopes, and the vineyard fans out down the slopes of the fan, hence the name.

The Waipara Valley winegrowing region, here in North Canterbury, New Zealand, is protected from the cold easterlies winds that punish Christchurch, less than an hour's drive to the south. Fancrest Estate has cleverly used the slopes of their north facing fan to harness the warmth of the sun. Free draining limestone clays over fragmented marls effectively limit vigour, and keep the canopy open and airy. In spring frosty air drains down into the valley, protecting our vines from cold damage. High levels of active lime across parts of this slope are ideal for growing Pinot Noir with classic structure and age-ability.

A finicky and fastidious varietal, Pinot Noir is sensitive to small changes in the both the season, the terroir and in how it is managed. To bring out its very best expresssion, Ian and Di decided to focus exclusively on Pinot Noir, and in 2003 planted a selection of the very best low yielding high quality clones.

Coveted for many years by winemakers across the country, Fancrest Estate has become one of the jewels in the crown of Waipara. It's located within a strip of roughly three kilometers of limestone hillside, referred to by some as 'The Golden Mile', perhaps with a not so subtle reference to Burgundy's "Golden Slopes".

Winemaker Diane Holding and husband Ian are convinced this narrow strip of land, which is already generating excitement among pinotphiles and earning their respect, will one day be producing among the best Pinot Noir in the world.

Winegrowing on the hills is hard work demanding a singular focus and commitment from those who work the land. Di Holding is not just committed to this exciting venture. She also works the vineyard, and makes the wine herself. With 5.4Ha of close planted (5000/Ha) vines, Di is most often to be found in the vineyard.

Despite being a qualified winemaker Di's main focus is on growing great Pinot. A committed terroiriste, Di has pushed the envelope in terms of allowing her vines to explore these magical soils. She has abandoned conventional vineyard practices, which often destroy soil flora and fauna with poisons and cultivation. She has adopted a complete no-till strategy and the vines love it.

Fancrest Estate was among the very first vineyards in Waipara to be certified fully organic (Biogro #5124), and the first to certify its wine as 100% organic.

Their risk in putting all their eggs in one basket is paying off. Every vintage demonstrates how the vines are beginning to push deeper through the limestone.  The wines even taste minerally. To preserve these qualities in the finished wine Di uses mechanisation judicously, and employs age old techniques wherever possible. The vast majority of the work is done by hand or in some cases feet!

Di's practices may vary from season to season, but no shortcuts are taken in the pursuit of excellence. The wines are usually bottled without fining or filtering.

Di has surrounded herself with a very small but dedicated team, mainly family, although for bigger tasks she loves to work with dedicated students of wine.