Owned by Stephen and Thea Farquharson and Stephen’s sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Geoff Bews, who are all committed to producing top quality grapes and wine, Wooing Tree Estate is a truly family-owned and -run business. Originally from farming backgrounds in North Otago and more recently working in IT both in Wellington and overseas, they all came back to Cromwell (Central Otago) to run the vineyard at the end of 2004 in time for their first vintage in 2005.
The estate is so named after The Wooing Tree, a local landmark that sits prominently in the middle of the vineyard. It has long been a place for locals to woo their lovers, and if it could talk, would have many a story to tell! These days it is not quite the private spot it once was, but they still have plenty of visitors proposing marriage and even getting married under the beautiful iconic tree, amidst the vines.
Pete Bartle has been Wooing Tree’s chief winemaker since 2010, following years spent elsewhere in New Zealand and in the Napa Valley (including a stint as assistant winemaker at Forrest Wines). Father to three and a keen cyclist, we are told his taste in music, food and wine is ‘eclectic’!
What is your favourite variety, why?
Pinot Noir, it is the variety that really made an impact on me. In particular its texture and mouthfeel which I believe are a large part of what makes a great wine.
If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be?
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The variety. Every harvest is different bringing its own challenges and rewards. You never stop learning.
And the least?
The long hours away from my family during harvest.
What is your favourite place in the winery/vineyards and why?
My favourite place in the winery is the barrel room. I love the feel, smell and the quiet. You can escape in there tasting through ever evolving wines. My favourite place in the vineyard is not really a place but time of year. I love the ripening season. Walking down the rows as the fruit slowly ripens towards harvest.