Spy Valley Wines by Richard Loader - Business South

Spy Valley Wines by Richard Loader - Business South

The intriguing story of Spy Valley Wines came about when the Johnson family bought Timara Lodge in the Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, in the early ‘90s.

Not the sort of place that you just stumble across, Waihopai Valley runs north to south, at the southern end of the Wairau Valley, and also has the curious honour of being home to the international satellite communication station — the GCSB ‘Spy Base’.

The Lodge came with a bit of land, and while the puzzle was what to do with it, by the early ‘90s, Sauvignon Blanc and vineyards were cropping up across the Wairau Valley region. Although not a farmer, Bryan Johnson was in finance and recognised an opportunity when he saw one.

Being an oenophile (connoisseur of fine wines), Bryan had found something that he could build a family legacy around, and together with his wife Jan, pioneered planting grapes in the Waihopai Valley, which back then, was the western outskirts of Marlborough’s wine footprint.

Today, Johnson Vineyard encompasses 130 hectares in the Waihopai Valley, with another vineyard, Black Knight, up the road in the Wairau Valley encompassing 24.5 hectares. With 20 hectares owned by other growers within a couple kilometres, 82% of Spy Valley Wine’s vineyards surround the winery, where the magic of wine making takes place.


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