Grapes to Glass – Q Wine


Situated in the picturesque Waitaki Valley, Q Wine’s three-person team delivers a beautiful range of terroir-driven wines that are intense, balanced, and distinctive. Back in 2002, wine-enthusiast Jules Stephan obtained a block of land in the Waitaki Valley — an area used mainly for sheep farming.

With the help of businesswoman Jules Matthews, Q Wine was able to begin realising a dream of producing exceptional wine for the   sheer love of it. The fertile soil and the unique qualities of the terroir allow Q Wine to produce premium wines that reflect the beauty of the region.

Matthews describes herself as a lifelong lover of travel, food and fine wine, and manages every aspect of the winery not under the control of the winemaker or viticulturist – website, distribution, accounting, creating the labels and writing tasting notes. Matthews had always been passionate about food and wine and has visited some of the world’s premium  winegrowing regions.

“Beginning with the dream of many a wine lover (to establish their own vineyard), our quest is to create ‘perfect pinot noir’,” she explained. “The enigmatic name Q is evocative of the vineyard’s pursuit of excellence and quality when it comes to crafting a wine that is truly unique.” Q Wine is grown on a single vineyard in a challenging, yet extremely rewarding  Northern Otago terroir.

The vineyard lies on the southern bank of the Waitaki River near Otiake, on a substrate of fractured limestone marl with an overlay of alluvial silts. The limestone-rich soil coupled with the long and dry ripening seasons makes the area perfect for making taut, edgy, and powerful wines. Q Wine is particularly interested in crafting the ideal Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

The vines are planted densely so that each vine only has to bear a small amount of fruit. Low yields produce fantastic wine with superb concentration. Traditional technique and a  boutique approach mean that all of the grapes are hand-harvested—something that comes through in every bottle.

French winemaker Antony Worch has been chief winemaker of Q Wine since 2012. His pragmatic approach to  carefully monitoring and controlling each step of the winemaking process  helps him to create the bold flavours present in Q Wine. Worch admits  that the challenging vineyard has taken some getting used to. “Some of the  early [seasons] were the toughest. We needed to understand the  Waitaki Valley.” However, since then, he’s found it hard to pick a favourite  – “They all have their personality, and I couldn’t pick one out.” To Worch, each season brings its own personality.

Q Wine has already planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay,and Pinot Gris. From the Pinot Noir they are able to make Rosé, and from the Chardonnay, a  Methode Traditionelle. Worch believes that Pinot Noir is an interesting  wine that showcases the terroir. He thinks that Pinot Noir should be  “seductive and appealing, not extracted or showing off,” and that white wines “are meant to be round and food friendly.”

Being interested in agriculture helps Worch thoroughly understand the land and the relationship it has with the viticulture. “Being part of the development of a fairly new wine region, I’m happy that people can drink my wines and  come back to them in the future understanding what I’ve been trying to achieve. There is something to enjoy or to learn in any wine.”

Worch notes  that the New Zealand wine industry is quality driven and sustainability oriented. If he could change one thing about the industry it would be the attitude of the consumer, “that people could judge the wines for what they are, not the label or the reputation.”

Q Wine is very aware of the need to undertake winemaking sustainably, always looking for ways to improve each task in the winemaking process.

Q Wine  is mainly sold to select restaurants and luxury lodges. The growing Q Member direct sales online have also been growing. Looking forward, Worch hopes to be able to continue making wines while delighting in the  process of doing so.

With the combined knowledge and expertise of  Antony Worch and the directive vision of Jules Matthews, Q Wine hopes to produce immaculate wines that mirror the rugged charm of the South Island.

To find out more visit: https://www.qwine.co.nz/

This article originally published in Restaurant and Café.