Isabel Estate was established by Mike and Robyn Tiller in 1980 with the ambition of producing premium, classic grape varieties in Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine area, which is situated at the top of the South Island. Prior to the 1994 vintage, Isabel Estate supplied Marlborough’s leading wine producers - including Cloudy Bay - with grapes, but since then has produced its own single-vineyard wines. The estate is now owned by the Australian drinks company, Pinnacle, which has focused on investment in the vineyards and winery since it took over in 2014. Ex-Villa Maria winemaker Jeremy McKenzie is now in charge of the wines and is dedicated to ensuring the high quality that is synonymous with this estate.
Located in the Wairau Valley area of Marlborough, Isabel Estate benefits from extensive sunshine hours combined with a long, cool growing season. The site itself is unusual for Marlborough, combining free-draining gravels with a narrow layer of clay in the subsoil, preventing excess water loss from the gravel.
Concentration is achieved through densely planted vines, double the usual number in Marlborough. Sustainable viticultural practices are used, including mulching and organic fertilisers to maintain soil nutrition. The cool, dry climate allows sprays to be kept to a minimum.
From the outset, Isabel set a new trend among Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc producers – a style now being adopted elsewhere. Twenty percent of the hand-harvested fruit is fermented in small, French oak barrels to give a subtle, creamy weave to the palate.