Our Story

Escarpment, defined as a long, steep slope that lies at the end of a plateau, is our unique place within Martinborough. Big open skies stretch across the Wairarapa, ‘glistening waters’ in te reo Māori, and the ancient alluvial soils run deep beneath the land. There is natural balance here.

At Escarpment Winery, our purpose is to translate that balance into wines that reflect these special attributes, this special part of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Over the last 35 years, we have created an expression of Martinborough Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Sculpted by Winemaker Tim Bourne and Viticulturist Rowan Hoskins from fruit entirely originating from Martinborough vineyards on the fabled alluvial gravels. We are focused on creating wines with an identifiable structure, complexity and fruit expression that reflect their distinctive sites and their regional Martinborough accent.

Our quality focused winery is based on Te Muna Road, Martinborough. 'Te Muna' in Māori, means 'secret' or 'special place' and to us at Escarpment that is exactly how we feel about the land and what it means to live, grow and make wine there. 


A Unique Sense of Place 

Escarpment strives to produce wines that capture a unique sense of place. Our home vineyard on Te Muna Road is situated just minutes east of Martinborough village, with 24 hectares of distinctive alluvial gravel, terraced land stretches out along the banks of the Huangarua River. The soils of the vineyard are alluvial loams that were formed by the Huangarua River over 20,000 years ago. With very deep alluvial gravels now layered over the loams this composition ensures exceptional drainage, one of the key prerequisites for nurturing and producing premium quality, healthy grape vines.

Much like the great wines of Burgundy, Escarpment’s names their top Pinot Noirs after the vineyards from which the grapes were grown, rather than the grape variety. The Single Vineyard Kupe, Pahi, Te Rehua and Kiwa demonstrate this philosophy with distinctive elegance and character.

Escarpment sources fruit from our own vineyards as well as from growers around the Martinborough township. We are lucky enough to enjoy long term, established relationships with our growers that is reflected in the quality of our wines.


The Legend of Kupe

The Aorangi Ranges, the very hills made famous, according to Māori legend, by Kupe the great Polynesian voyager who discovered Aotearoa New Zealand, form an impressive backdrop to the vineyard.

It is related that Kupe left his three canoes, Nga Waka, on top of the Aorangi Ranges, giving rise to the now familiar landmark of the district, which overlook the vineyard, the 'Nga Waka-o-Kupe' or the three flat-topped hills, which resemble unturned canoes. The warrior Kupe and his story provided the inspiration for the Escarpment’s flagship wine, Kupe.