The Aquiferra Story
...where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to the sunless sea (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
An ancient course of the Ngaruroro River runs beneath our olive grove, a massive aquifer collecting water from the Ruahine mountains to the west, flowing under the Heretaunga Plains south of Hastings and disgorging a kilometre offshore into the Pacific Ocean. We draw water from this source to irrigate our olive trees.
The Heretaunga Aquifer, as it is known, is the secret to agricultural production in this area. Without it the land would be dry, brown and barren for a large part of the year. Farmers of our fathers' generation viewed this land as "useless", too dry to grow crops or sustain animals all year round. The region's pioneering grape growers have since discovered otherwise and it is now one of New Zealand's major, classic Bordeaux-style wine producing areas.
We bought our 10 acres on Maraekakaho Road one rainy Monday in June, 2002. You couldn't say it was an impulsive buy - we had been looking at land in the area for about five years, on and off, - but it took only a few minutes to decide this was the place. A key factor was the little green pump-shed, standing lonesome in the back paddock, housing the magical machine that would gently lift water from the aquifer to nourish the olive trees we were planning to plant.
The Picual and Frantoio are machine harvested
Our name, "Aquiferra", combines the word ‘aquifer’, the geological term for an underground water system,with ‘terra’, the Latin word for earth. We are located 12 kilometres south east of Hastings in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, between the villages of Bridge Pa and Maraekakaho on the edge of the wine district known as the Ngatarawa Triangle. Around us are a few reminders of the previous use of the land, grazing sheep and cattle, but mostly we are surrounded by cropping and grapevines. North of us are soft rolling hills, including Roy's Hill, made famous on a label of CJ Pask red wine.To the west the distant Ruahine mountains merge with the Kaweka range. Both are snow-capped in winter. The sky dominates, often brilliant blue with dramatic cloud formations. Equinox winds from the west can be ferocious.