Native & Ancient
Native & Ancient takes place at the 3 years since-converted and now BioGro certified organic vineyards and winery of Isabel Estate, where local winemaker Josh Hammond returned from abroad to lead this new project of theirs.
Those familiar with the Marlborough wine industry will know Isabel Estate’s story. It’s one of the earliest planted vineyards in the region, located at the lower Waihopai Valley near Renwick, and around seven years ago now saw a change in ownership and direction. Champion winemaker Jeremy McKenzie took the helm, made some key changes, and with the help of Josh and a few others, converted the vineyards and winery to organics, sought BioGro certification, developed the estate, planted even more vineyards, and helped give the estate a new lease of life.
Before heading abroad Josh was working as production winemaker at Villa Maria, with a key focus in sparkling wine and Chardonnay production. Upon leaving NZ he took on the role of winemaker at London-based urban winery Renegade, where they made low-intervention wines in the centre of London with fruit sourced from throughout Europe. There Josh was able to hone his craft and in particular develop techniques and methods for producing beautiful low intervention wines, further develop his methods for pét nat production and figure out how best to make totally natural wines (i.e. without any added sulphites).
As projects go Native & Ancient is something of a dream to most winemakers - here they get to use estate-grown, BioGro certified organic fruit, take it just a few hundred metres into their own winery, and be given complete freedom and trust to produce wines in styles not normally associated with their core business. The cellar is complete with barrels, tanks, amphorae, large format oak, and they are even able to bottle on-site too. Josh comes from a generational farming/grapegrowing family so it’s equal parts exciting and encouraging to see a Marlborough local leading changes like these. What’s more, assistant winemaker Tom Flaherty, who sidelines as an artist, was able to produce the artwork for the label, with abstracts designed to explore the intricate and visceral dynamic between human and nature, with motifs such as growth and decay, macro and micro, the seen and unseen.
For the initial 2021 release we have three pétillant naturels, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Gris, and a Pinot Noir / Syrah blend. All three are organically farmed, bottled mid-ferment, undisgorged, unfiltered, unfined (vegan) and made without any added sulphites too. Later in the year we will introduce a skin-contact Pinot Gris and a Pinot Noir too.