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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for December 1, 2000


Winery of the Week

Something New
Under the (Southern) Sun


Isabel Estate 
In the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the Cloudy Bay Winery burst on the scene in 1985. It created a cult following almost overnight, using grapes purchased from a large, family-owned vineyard.

The Rest of the Story

Michael and Robyn Tiller got to thinking. Their Isabel Estate 128-acre vineyard was supplying the grapes for Marlborough's most famous winery, Cloudy Bay. How about making their own wine? So they did it, and here's the press reaction when their wines reached the U.K.:

"Look out for the Isabel Estate—it's one of the brightest new stars in New Zealand."

...Wine Magazine (we've written for them)

Isabel Estate is fast emerging as one of New Zealand's best."

...Observer Life (U.K.)

Isabel Wines

New Zealand grows the world's most southernly grapes. Spell that cool the Isabel wines are from three sun-shy varietals, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling...and the region's star, Sauvignon Blanc. My panel has already tasted the 1998 Pinot ($24) and gave it a resounding RECOMMENDED.

Finding Your Isabel

The wines have reached most major markets in the U.S.A. If you can't locate an Isabel, contact the office of Marc Kauffman, (415) 467-1030, FAX (415) 467-0133.


Missionaries planted the first vines in New Zealand about 180 years ago. We know the vines soon did well, because we have the testimony of a witness who stopped by to observe them in 1835. The visitor was...Charles Darwin!


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


This page created December 2000