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Four generations of our family have lived in Brightwater for over 55 years with a long history of involvement in the community. Having moved from Southland when Rob was a young lad the Grey family brought our property to run as a dairy farm producing milk for town supply. Rob stayed in the dairy industry until 1996 then began to convert the farm to vineyards growing premium quality grapes for numerous prestigious New Zealand wine brands including Kim Crawford and Craggy Range. In 2011, Rob’s daughter Kylie and her husband Ryan O’Connell moved back to Brightwater and together with Rob launched Middle-earth wines. In 2016 we proudly added to our portfolio launching Middle-earth Water.
Rob with his extensive farming background and knowledge of our land continues to oversee the operations of the vineyards as well as travelling as an ambassador for Middle-earth wines & water.
Ryan has spent his career in the wine industry, both here in New Zealand and overseas. Ryan now oversees our business looking after all general management, marketing, exporting and operations.
Kylie is the glue that holds us all together and looks after all accounts, administration and logistics – a massive job!
Located at the top of the South Island of New Zealand in the sub-region of Brightwater, Nelson our vineyards really are in the centre of the land synonymous with the Middle-earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Accredited 100% sustainable with a producing area that totals more than 50 hectares across various blocks and lies in the confluence of two rivers, bordered by a scenic reserve on one side.
An ideal location for premium grape growing with ancient alluvial soils that are stony and free draining with layered river silts. Expert vineyard management is aided with modern systems like computer controlled drip fed water supply if required along with natural practices of grazing sheep for grass and weed control makes us perfectly set up to provide premium quality, clean fruit to the winery. High sunshine hours and the cool, clear skies of autumn provide a slow ripening period that helps to retain the vibrant varietal flavours that make our wines so distinctive.
Beginning her life on a Hawkes Bay sheep farm (long before the region was covered in vineyards!) a rural background has given Trudy a very down-to-earth attitude towards life and she is a humble and devoted winemaker.
First venturing to the South Island to study a Bachelor of Science at Lincoln University, a chance introduction to a postgraduate wine student sparked an interest in wine which was squirreled away but unattended to for some years.
On completing her undergrad she worked in medical microbiology for six years before returning to Lincoln University in 2001 to complete a post-graduate degree in wine science.
Fast forward to today and Trudy’s skills as a winemaker have been honed via harvests in NSW, Melbourne, France, and Italy. In addition, there were six months in a vineyard on Waiheke Island and a career defining 13-year association with Waimea Estates Nelson, beginning as a harvest cellar hand and concluding with a 7-year stint as the Winemaker.
Beyond winemaking Trudy enjoys sailing, exploring our bountiful region by foot, bike or boat, gardening, and cooking and likes above all concluding these days in good company with a glass or two of wine.
The Nelson Tasman region is located in the geographical centre or middle-earth of New Zealand at the top of the South Island approximately 115km or 70 miles west of Marlborough and while its obvious quality of wines has attracted international acclaim, being slightly off the beaten track confers a wonderful sense of tranquility.
A gentle sun drenched maritime influenced climate and known for being the sunniest region in New Zealand surrounded by rugged, bush clad mountains to golden sand beaches. The climate and lifestyle have historically drawn artists to this region, family owned boutique wineries to our famed seafood, fruit and hops, plus our galleries and boutique shops, cafés and restaurants and you go well beyond what you would normally expect to find in a provincial setting. With a huge range of outdoor activities, cycle trails, sporting facilities, parks, reserves, beaches and a ski field – we can honestly say there is something here for everyone!