Saint Clair Family Estate is owned by Neal and Judy Ibbotson, viticulture pioneers in Marlborough since 1978. Marlborough is now the largest grape growing area of New Zealand and is situated at the top northeastern tip of the South Island at an altitude of 40 degrees south of the equator, parallel to some of the worlds’ major wine growing regions in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a clean, quiet sunny valley sheltered from the worst of New Zealand’s maritime weather by hills to the north and south. Its main town Blenheim regularly tops New Zealand’s record for highest annual sunshine hours, which helps gives the wines a concentrated flavour. It has a growing population due to the fast growing wine industry, gourmet food industry and commercial mussel and salmon farming in the nearby picturesque Marlborough Sounds.
Grapes were originally supplied to local wine companies; however a desire to extend the quality achieved in the vineyard through to the finished wine led to the establishment of Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. The company's mission is to create world-class wines that exceed their customers' every expectation. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive viticultural expertise plus Marlborough’s mix of climate and soils with the talent of one of New Zealand’s leading winemaking teams, led by Matt Thomson and Hamish Clark.
Saint Clair has developed six vineyards in different sites in Marlborough, only superior fruit from the best locations for each individual variety is selected for the Saint Clair label. A sustainable viticulture approach is adopted with minimal use of vineyard sprays, open canopy with good light and airflow, leaf plucking, fruit and shoot thinning and selection with no cultivation. After harvest the fruit is moved rapidly from vine, to press, to tank and barrel, to preserve fruit quality and character.
Architect Neal Charles Jones and Saint Clair's Chief Winemaker, Matt Thomson, combined their extensive experience to design Saint Clair Estate's state of the art winery. Built for production from the 2006 harvest, the winery is capable of crushing 400 tonnes of fruit per day. It features state of the art equipment including high-tec refrigeration control and monitoring software to further enhance the quality of Saint Clair award-winning wines.