About us

The Esk Valley Story

Welcome to the Valley

Esk Valley has come a long way since Sir George Fistonich purchased the historic Glenvale Winery from the Bird Family in 1986. From a time when ports and sherries ruled the market, Esk Valley began forging a reputation for its innovative and quality wines. Under winemaker Gordon Russell Esk Valley broke boundaries introducing new grape varieties and new wine styles to Hawkes Bay.

From the original historic cellars in the north of Hawkes Bay to Esk Valley’s new purpose built winery within the confines of the renowned Gimblett Gravels, Esk Valley continues to produce a collection of wines regarded amongst New Zealand's finest. Utilising a very traditional and hands off approach including concrete fermenters for the finest parcels of red grapes, Esk Valley continues to build on its reputation.


Gordon Russell

Born in New Plymouth, New Zealand, Gordon’s desire to travel took him to England and Europe for three years after university. He had always been interested in different flavours and trying new food so during his time abroad he naturally also developed an appreciation for fine wine.

In 1986 Gordon returned to New Zealand, just when the wine styles for which New Zealand has become highly regarded were beginning to emerge. Gordon was appointed as Esk Valley winemaker in 1993, after working for Villa Maria in Auckland as a cellar hand from 1987 and then as assistant winemaker to Grant Edmonds at Esk Valley from 1990.

Gordon strives to make wines that tell the story of the vineyards from which they came. Experience has taught him that with attention to detail in vineyard, the winemaking process becomes simple and a hands off affair. Esk Valley’s aim is to produce a natural style of wine utilising wild yeast and long term lees ageing. These are modern styles of wine made in a hand crafted manner.


Hawkes Bay, Gimblett Gravels & Marlborough

Esk Valley sources its grapes from two of New Zealand’s most famous wine regions. Hawkes Bay on the east coast of the North Island has long been famous for its classic wine styles. This warm maritime climate and gravel based soils are ideal for the production of high quality reds and fuller white wines. It is from Hawkes Bay that Esk Valley sources its Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Chardonnay, Verdelho and Pinot Gris.

Marlborough at the northern tip of the South Island is renowned the world over for its unique style of Sauvignon Blanc. With its cooler nights, Marlborough produces wines with a freshness and intensity of flavour that is rare in the wine world. This is the source of Esk Valley’s Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir.