In the beginning, a group of pioneering New Zealand winemakers had a vision to produce one of the world’s finest brandies. This was not a small vision for an industry that was very much still in its infancy. 7 Cellars Brandy was born from this vision. What follows is a story about commitment, passion and foresight from a dedicated few pioneers.
An original group of 12 winemakers reduced to a core of 7 that had the aspiration, patience and perseverance to follow the vision and embark on this journey of faith. These men became known as “The Magnificent Seven”. They had successfully lobbied the government of the time to grant them a licence to conduct experiments to see whether the industry could successfully produce quality brandy from locally grown grapes.
“The Seven Men of the 7Cellars” were Nobilo, Babich, Delegat, Totara (Chan), Selak, Lincoln (Fredatovich) and Golden Sunset (Balich). Each winemaker contributed to the scheme by submitting grapes that were grown at the time, like Baco22A, a grape traditionally aligned to the French Cognac grapes Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc. The winemakers took great care to select grapes grown in areas where the soil had high clay content recognized as a key component in making premium quality brandy like those from the great Cognac region of France.
[ The Pioneers ]
Petar Fredatovich looking over harvested Baco 22A grapes in bushel cases
Nick Nobilo adding Baco 22A grapes to the crusher
Nikola Nobilo operates a typical fortifying spirit Still at the time
Initial fermentation took place at the Babich winery where the resulting wine was then transported a short distance to Delegats winery for distillation. All of the winemakers had traditional column stills for the production of fortifying spirits for ports and sherries, however, Delegat was the closest and his still needed to be modified to create premium brandy. The old column was removed and a new copper column, specifically built for the purpose, was reinstalled. For “The Seven Men of the 7Cellars” this was serious business and nothing was left to chance.