Millton Vineyards & Winery

Gisborne, New Zealand


In 1984 James and Annie Millton established Millton Vineyards on the banks of the Te Arai River, on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand in the wine appellation of Gisborne. It is here in 1871 that early settlers first planted grapevines. Millton is New Zealand’s first organic and second biodynamic wine estate, certified by Bio-Gro and Demeter respectively, and has been cultivated this way since the winery’s founding. 

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Annie’s father, John Clark, developed vineyards on his estate at ‘Opou’ in Manutuke during the late 1960’s. This property had been farmed by his family for three generations prior to John’s venture into winegrowing. James and Annie returned to Gisborne after experience gained in the famous wine regions of France and Germany including Champagne, Bordeaux and Rheinhessen. By 1983 they had extensively researched and replanted major parts of the families’ property, before establishing the Millton Vineyards in 1984. The estate remains family-farmed, now for five generations. 

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The estate is comprised of three vineyards, Opou, Te Arai and the Clos de Ste. Anne, across 22 hectares planted to a range of varietals including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Noir. The unique character of the appellation is its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and geologically youthful sedimentary soils with high silica and clay content. The vineyards have remained 100% dry farmed since they were first planted and they have been cultivated biodynamically since the winery’s founding in 1984. 

Clos de Ste. Anne Vineyard 

Clos de Ste. Anne is Millton’s “Grand Cru” and is dedicated to Annie Millton, whose family farmed this land for five generations. The wines from this site reflect the unique terroir. The site is on steep northeast facing slopes; soil is  loam with volcanic ash and pumice over calcareous sedimentary rock. This vineyard location makes it the first vineyard in the world to see the light of a new day.  


Millton’s wines are all single vineyard, single-varietal wines. After hand-harvesting the grapes, the must is handled with gentle care and precision in the winery to maintain the character of the vineyards. Indigenous yeasts and bacteria are used, and fermentation takes place in stainless steel or larger format oak barrels. All wines are unfined as the Millton’s philosophy prefers time over technology to fine the wines. The harmony of the estate ecosystem results in wines of unparalleled quality that have been internationally recognized time and again. 

Environmental Initiatives

The vineyards have been cultivated biodynamically since the winery’s founding in 1984 and have remained 100% dry farmed. The estate is farmed without insecticides, herbicides, systemic fungicides or soluble fertilizers. Millton was the first winegrower in the Southern Hemisphere to gain organic certification with BioGro and the second to earn biodynamic certification with Demeter. Millton is a member of an international biodynamic group, La Renaissance des Appellations, whose mission is to provide the “full expression of an appellation” through its wines. It was established in 2001 by Nicolas Joly. Today, there are 175 members including Domaine Leflaive, Clau de Nell and Famille Joly. All members are certified organic or biodynamic for at least 3 years, with 90% of members practicing biodynamic agriculture. In addition, the estate is carbon-negative and its wines are vegan. 


Gisborne is noted as the location where Captain Cook first made landfall and geographically it is the first place in New Zealand to see sunrise. The unique character of the appellation is its proximity to the influence of the Pacific Ocean together with the geologically youthful sedimentary soils. Cooling sea breezes keep the climate friendly and temperate in high summer. Gisborne is known for artisanal and creative winemaking for popular varietals like Chardonnay, as well as more esoteric whites like Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Gewurztraminer. 

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