The secret to great, world quality New Zealand artisan wines is a perfect vineyard site and a dedicated French-trained master winemaker. Frenchmans Hill Estate has both. Located on Waiheke Island perched above Putiki Estuary on the Te Whau Peninsula at the western head of Onetangi Valley where we have been producing high quality wines since 2010. The area provides the perfect combination of maritime climate, pedigree wine selections, soil and passionate people to create some of New Zealand's most profound wines. It is very similar climatically to the Medoc Region of France.
Born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, our master winemaker - Luc Desbonnets travelled to France to learn his father’s culture and at the same time, fell in love with the world of viticulture while working for a vineyard in the Medoc appellation area of Bordeaux. One passionate spark of interest became a lifelong legacy for Luc Desbonnets. Luc continued to pursue a degree in winemaking and viticulture in Bordeaux and spent the next 30 years learning and honing his craft in Eastern Europe and around the world.
The creation of Frenchmans Hill on Waiheke Island in 2006 is in itself the crystallised work of Luc’s uncompromising principle of traditional French winemaking art. The makeup of the wine is determined by the four French tenets - earth, climate, vine and human - known as Terroir. For Luc, however there is a fifth tenet that is the spirituality and history of the land or whenua. As a winemaker, viticulturist and landowner, Luc honours the essence of the Wairua (spirits) continuing to guard “kaitiaki", the land. Waiheke Island brings an abundance of impoverished sandy/ gravelly clays that produce the matching and vibrant vines to various micro sites. The result is some of New Zealand's highest quality of Bordeaux inspired reds with “unique earth expressions" that Luc desires and ultra fine NZ artisan wines.
We believe authentic artisan products come from the SOUL. Frenchmans Hill is an everlasting tell-tale of the ancient history of Waiheke Island and Luc’s life journey to create finely crafted NZ artisan wines. All are documented through the dances of the unique flavour profiles of concentrated fruits and French oak barrel aromas. From the rich Rock Earth Syrah 2013 to the youthful Pukeke NV, our wine creation has consistently garnered various prestigious awards from Bob Campbell MW.
From preserving the hand- pruning process to the French cork wax pouring method, Luc brought the vision of Frenchmans Hill to life from the utmost respect for tradition, a focus on healthy hand-picked vines, the spirit of the land, environment and ultimately the finest selection of wine for our most discerning drinkers.