Lawson’s Dry Hills celebrates 25 years at the forefront of the Marlborough wine industry

In 1992, amongst Barbara Kendall winning gold at the Barcelona Olympics, the move to MMP, Shortland Street airing for the first time and The Exponents being awarded single of the year, Ross and Barbara Lawson quietly started selling wine under their own label, Lawson’s Dry Hills.

Now, 25 years later, the wines are some of New Zealand’s most awarded with numerous trophies and medals from all over the world. When asked which of these resonate the most, Chief Winemaker Marcus Wright, who has been with Lawson’s Dry Hills for 16 years, says, “Probably the International Wine Challenge trophies”.

He explains, “It’s a real endorsement of what we are doing. The IWC in London is probably the most comprehensive wine stage in the world, so we were pretty chuffed with those.”

General Manager, Sion Barnsley who has been with Lawson’s Dry Hills for many years says, “From vineyard through to winemaking and management, the longevity of the core team over almost two decades is a critical part of the 25 year celebration.”

The range of wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and their famous Gewurztraminer, all made from grapes grown on company owned or managed vineyards in the Marlborough sub-regions of the Wairau, Waihopai, Omaka and Awatere Valleys.

To commemorate the occasion, Lawson’s Dry Hills is launching a special wine from the 2017 vintage. Named after the Maori verb meaning ‘to mix’, RANU is a careful co-fermentation of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer. This wine fulfils the team’s desire to be innovative while embracing the aromatic grape varieties that they are famous for.

"On the 11th of April we headed into the vineyards and picked a single bin each of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer from three different blocks.

The Pinot Gris was from the Barnsley block carefully tended by Biddy Barnsley. Located in the Waihopai valley, the clay soils and low yields provide weight and concentration.

Our only Riesling comes from our company-owned Waihopai vineyard. Viticulturist Mark Ludemann ensures the vines are kept in balance, only producing moderate crops following a light leaf-plucking that lead to a long, slow ripening period and great flavour development.

The Gewurztraminer was picked from the Woodward Vineyard just a few hundred metres down the road from the winery. Here again the clay soils produce flavoursome fruit with considerable weight and texture. The vineyard is carefully tended by Peter Woodward.

Once in the winery, the three varieties were whole-bunch pressed together and the resulting juice settled for just a few hours before being racked into old oak for fermentation.

Fermentation was allowed to occur spontaneously and took several months to complete during which time there was no winemaking intervention.

The wine was bottled here at the winery on the 17th of August.


Beeswax, lemon, lime, red apple and delicate florals.


Lemon sherbet, nashi pear with crisp acidity giving lovely focus. This wine shows great complexity and has wonderful texture showing the best of all three varieties, which when combined produce a really fascinating wine."

Lawson’s Dry Hills exports to more than 20 overseas locations as well as enjoying a thriving domestic market. Masters of their own destiny, the small, hands-on team is 100% responsible for every part of the business from the vineyards right through the winemaking process to bottling and distribution.

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