Cheers to Alpha Domus: family winery celebrates

I’m a great supporter of New Zealand wineries – in more ways than one! To survive in this tough industry takes dedication – so a huge congratulations to family-run Hawke’s Bay winery Alpha Domus for reaching its 30th birthday.

• 2019 marks 30 incredible years in the wine industry

• Sleek new branding and a reimagined colour palette

• Cumulus Méthode Traditionelle returns 

To successfully evolve a brand is no small task, but the family behind Alpha Domus treated the process as an adventure, and are justifiably proud of the result – a refined colour palette, new gold accents marking out three distinctive wine ‘series’, and an inspiring visual interpretation of the vintage Tiger Moth bi-plane that can often be heard overhead from the site.

“For us, the landscape of our wine brand is just not what surrounds it but what flies above it – we have the historic Bridge Pa aerodrome close by and the magical Moths,” says Paul Ham, Alpha Domus’ managing director. “They represent adventure, romance, endurance, heritage – something well made. These are all qualities that resonate with the brand and Alpha Domus wines.”

A story of family

For the oldest family-owned vineyard and winery in the Bridge Pa Triangle, turning 30 marks a significant milestone for the founders, winemaker and accomplished team. Paul is one of the five cofounders of the vineyard – the names of his father, mother and brothers spell out ‘Alpha’ in agedescending order, while Domus is Latin for ‘home’.  His mother Leonarda has passed, but father Anthonius (Ton) still has a seat at the boardroom table, providing valuable input. Family remains Alphas Domus’ cornerstone with Paul’s wife Kathryn and now third generation Ham, Beatrix, integral to the brand and business.  It is this combination of talents that has seen Alpha Domus remain relevant in an always-changing market, consistently producing wines that are balanced, distinctive and delicious.  An example of this multi-generational approach is new offering, the Beatrix Sparkling Rosé.  The brainchild of its namesake, it is a bright, brambly 100% merlot sparkling, and has been an unprecedented hit.  

Alpha Domus’ proven passion and ongoing commitment to producing only the best varietals for the site have stood the brand in good stead. “Thirty years is quite an achievement for a New Zealand owned independent wine brand like ours,” Paul continues. “This year, we’re particularly excited to see the return of our distinctive handcrafted Cumulus. It was first picked and produced in 2000, and it’s now more popular than ever, as demand for quality sparkling wines increases.  For many, it’s a wine that is synonymous with celebration – and is something very special.”

The new Alpha Domus series

Fresh branding has seen Alpha Domus’ wines smartly segmented into three distinctive series:

The Collection represents excellent value – relaxed, drinkable, perfectly balanced examples of chardonnay, rosé, sauvignon blanc, syrah and merlot cabernet. Each varietal is identified by a memorable coloured label.  

The Estate wines already enjoy a strong following – The Wingwalker Viognier, The Skybolt Chardonnay, The Barnstormer Syrah, the memorable and much-loved Navigator Merlot Cabernet among them. 

And the Special Reserve series is the founders’ vision for wines crafted only in the best years from Alpha Domus’ finest parcels. They include the standout Aviator Cabernet Merlot and Noble Semillon, earning their place as New Zealand classics, and new additions The Batten Chardonnay and The Ace Syrah.

Looking to the future

Since the 20-hectare site was established in 1989, 60 percent has been replanted and today, with the expertise of winemaker Barry Riwai and longstanding vineyard manager Darren Chatterton, it produces varietals that work beautifully in the soil – a combination of new clones and heritage vines.  A leader in the sustainable winegrowing programme of New Zealand, Alpha Domus is now implementing aspects of organic production.

Winemaker Barry Riwai sums it up. “Good wine starts on the vine, and the care that goes into the growing of our grapes. This is minimal intervention winemaking, and letting the vineyard expression shine through into the bottle. For the reds, it’s the soft tannin and floral lift on the nose. The whites have generous ripeness while still maintaining great, delicious acidity.”

As the new season begins, Paul says he and his team feel extremely privileged to be producing wines from this site. “The Bridge Pa Triangle is not only special to us, it is increasingly gaining recognition as the home of some of the most delicious, vibrant and inspired wines in the country. We are proud to be part of the pioneering winegrowing history of Hawke’s Bay.”