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Okahu is located 3.5km from Kaitaia on the Awarora Rd (the road to Ahipara, the little village at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach).
Okahu’s six acre estate vineyard is on the corner of Awarora Rd and Okahu Rd, latitude 35.08ºS with the winery’s frontage off Okahu Road.
The elevated site slopes west nor west, with impressive rural views, out to the sand hills of 90 Mile Beach and Shipwreck Bay. The proximity to the beach provides a maritime climate with the predominant winds from the west.
The climate is warm, with 1662 growing degree days (October–April is above 10ºC). Frosts are almost non-existent and relative humidity is high. The vineyard is just north of the hills and rain belt and avoids some of the higher rainfall in other parts of Northland’s Far North. Rainfall October to April averages 618mm. The northern influence and mild climate provides for an extended season, allowing variatals to grow here that may not do so well further south.
The soil is a sandy black loam over clay. On the upper slopes, the loam is over an almost impenetrable sandstone pan, which can vary from 200mm to 2m thick. This soil type extends over the contract vineyards adjoining Okahu. It is common throughout Northland in areas where Kauri forests once grew and Monty Knight has dubbed it ‘Kauri Sands’.
Vines planted over this pan are stressed, assisting in restricting the natural vigour, the temperate climate encourages. Fruit from these Kauri Sands is compact, and concentrated, producing some of the Estates best wine.
The vineyard suits spicy, vibrant reds like Syrah, Pinotage, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and the new world hybrid, Chambourcin. With whites, Okahu has achieved great success with Chardonnay. New plantings of Vigonier and Flora have come into production in 2012. The vines are grafted on American rootstock, with an emphasis on low vigour stocks like Ripira Gloria, 101-42 and 3309. They receive minimal irrigation in the first two establishment years and from then are left to fend for themselves.
“Syrah is almost certainly the premium grape to grow in this area”, says Okahu’s owner, Monty Knight. “Followed closely by Chambourcin, both of which produce Rhone style reds, floral, spicy and very drinkable”!
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