Vicarage Lane was founded in April 2002, when then UK based Kiwi director John Kennard established Vicarage Lane Wines Limited , a company based around a 4 hectare block, including 2 hectares of vineyard, in the Cloudy Bay district of Marlborough, New Zealand, home to some of the worlds finest wines.
During 2003 half of the company was sold to established Christchurch winemakers Brent and Shirley Rawstron, a move aimed at giving the fledgling company greater depth and knowledge of the wine industry, plus equity to allow acquisition of further vineyard space. Brent Rawstron was also elected a director and Kennard, along with partner Satu Lappalainen, returned to New Zealand to run the vineyard.
The 2 hectare block of Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in 2001 underwent major development during the 2003 growing season, with the acquisition of a further 4 hectares of bare land and the planting of some 10770 new grafted Sauvignon Blanc plants on the new land and unplanted sections of the existing block.
The first work on the project involved removal of the existing pasture, deep ripping to break up any compaction in the underlying soils, and the application of fertilizer along with slow release weed control before planting. The irrigation system was also extended from a single zone to include 4 zones incorporating both the existing and new vines.
Initial growth from the plants in the warm, dry Marlborough climate was very strong, despite a wide spread drought in New Zealand’s South island. Plants had reached 1.8-2.0m of cane growth by the end of the 03-04 growing season and, while dormant in the winter, a single fruiting cane was laid down ready for spring growth to begin.
This rate of growth was mirrored in the following seasons, with one additional cane being laid on the maturing vines each season until a full crop was produced from the mature four cane VSP (vertcal shoot positioning) pruned vines in 2008. Future seasons have continued the use of this 4 cane pruning system.