Suffolk native Chris Pask was once a topdressing pilot, flying over New Zealand's fertile agricultural land to spray the crops from the air, having emigrated from the UK in 1960. From his cockpit he had the perfect view of the landscape and before long he identified somewhere that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes.
In 1970 he planted his first vineyard. In 1982 he planted on land in the Gimblett Gravels area, on nutrient-poor, free-draining alluvial soils laid down by the change in direction of the Ngaruroro River more than a century ago. In 1985 he and his daughter Tessa established C J Pask and they were on their way.
Located in the Hawke’s Bay area, one the hottest parts of the country, their 90 hectares of vineyards are sheltered by a local range of inland hills and enjoy moderate rainfall and long hours of sunshine. The gravels on which Chris Pask planted aid in the ripening of the grapes by soaking up and reflecting all that daytime sunshine and radiating it back at night. Conditions are propitious here for the production of red wines and in the Hawkes Bay area you will find the largest concentration of red grape vines in New Zealand. Merlot, chardonnay, syrah and cabernet sauvignon predominate at Pask, with plantings of malbec, pinot gris and viognier also supplementing the mainstays.
Winemaker and managing director Kate Radburnd is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished and renowned winemakers. She has been director of both the New Zealand Winegrowers organisation and the Wine Institute of New Zealand, and in 2010 was awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal for her outstanding contribution to the country’s wine industry. She also heads many judging panels at wine shows throughout the country.
Amid all this she has been making wine for more than 30 years, most of them at Pask and has been a driving force in establishing their reputation as one of the best producers in New Zealand.