In 1987 John Hancock met Robert and Robyn Wilson in their London restaurant called Bleeding Heart. Over a bottle of John's award-winning Chardonnay, the concept of a Hawke's Bay winery was born. They were convinced they could produce world-class red wines as well as white in this region of New Zealand. By 1996 they produced the first small vintage on off-site premises. And in 1997 Stage 1 of the winery was built on its current site and completed in time for the 1997 vintage. Winemaking facilities combining the traditional with the modern are incorporated in the completion of the Barrel Hall in 1998. The first Gimblett Road wines, barrel-aged, were released in 1998 (vintage 1997); Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Syrah, to critical acclaim and a number of gold medals and trophies. They have since expanded and planted many other grape varieties including the fruit for this Spicy Syrah.
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