Whilst life as a vineyard began fairly recently, in the late 80s, the rewards of the soils of Chard Farm have long been appreciated.
The beautifully aspected site and the qualities of the relatively frost-free slopes and free-draining soils were recognised early in the development of the Gibbston Valley and Wakatipu areas and caught the attention of Richard Chard in the 1860s.
Lured by the promise of good fortune, Richard settled in New Zealand during the Great Gold Rush era. Instead of gold, Richard made his earnings from the miners travelling along the much-used “Old Coach Road”, offering locally grown food from his small market garden and orchard.
After Richard Chard passed away son Eric took the reins, attempting to convert the farm to a dairy property with little desire for modernisation and technology. It was a small operation that never reaped much reward. The end of the Chard family residing at the Farm came when Richard and his son moved off the land in 1978, relocating to Arrowtown.
It was in the mid-80s when Rob Hay arrived home to New Zealand after studying winemaking in Germany for three years. Rob spent the year searching for a piece of land in New Zealand that best emulated the conditions - the "Terroir"- found in some of the greatest vineyard areas of the world - most notably the inland cool climates of Central Europe - Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne and South Germany. Chard Farm was purchased in 1987 - this was the beginning of the Chard Farm Vineyard.