Richard Painter studied a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography at Otago. Whilst living in Dunedin, he spent four years managing the legendary Bath St. Nightclub. During this stint in hospitality Richard began attending wine clubs and tastings. He soon realised that not only did he really enjoy drinking wine, but also that the process of making wine was intrinsically linked to soil science and climatology and therefore appeared to be a practical application of what he studied in Physical Geography. This burgeoning interest in wine took him to Lincoln University in 2006, to complete a Graduate Diploma in Winemaking and Viticulture.
Richard started off his career in the wine industry working in vineyards in Central Otago, Canterbury and Nelson. During a year working at Neudorf Vineyard’s in Nelson, he discovered an interest with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and wanted to learn more about these wines. This lead him to travel to Oregon to work for Owen Roe Winery and as fate would have it ended up working in their facility in Washington State. Again his curiosity with different varietals was piqued and he fell in love with making (and naturally drinking) bold red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blends and Syrah.
This love of red wine is what brought Richard to Hawkes Bay as he wanted to work with fruit from the famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. He joined Vidal Estate for the 2008 vintage and then stayed on to become the Assistant Winemaker in 2011. Working at Vidal also rekindled his passion for Chardonnay and reaffirmed his view that Hawkes Bay produces world class wines from this variety, the finest white wine of them all.
“I am really excited to take on the winemaking reins at Te Awa. It is a special site that has produced fine wine for many years now as well as having a fantastic Restaurant and Cellar door. The soil composition of the different zones of the vineyard, ranging from very gravelly to more sand and silt loam, allow us to produce a range of varieties all on the one Estate, that always display both finesse and a wonderful depth of flavour.”
Te Awa o Te Atua The River of God
Te Awa o Te Atua, The river of God — a reference to the mysterious subterranean streams over which the vineyards are situated and from which the wines draw their exquisite, yet subtle characteristics. The quality comes from the free draining soil which consistently produces high quality fruit.
Walking the vineyard at Te Awa Winery you will see the vines planted in alluvial soils, typical of the area. The single estate is made up of 151 hectares, 100 of which are planted in vines. Te Awa vineyard soils are the trails of the old Ngaruroro River which meandered through the region until a huge flood changed its course in 1867.
The Te Awa site was traditionally used for sheep grazing and other agricultural endeavors, but was built into a leading winery due to its unique soil consistency. Warm temperatures, low rainfall and the permeability of the soils creates an almost paradoxical blend of consistency and complexity. The region has produced some of New Zealand's most sought after Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay.
Te Awa occupies a prime position in the Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District, one of the premium Hawkes Bay wine growing sites. This district is determined by the gravelly soils laid down by the old Ngaruroro River, which were exposed after a huge flood in the 1860's.