David Bishell immigrated to New Zealand in 1876, with his wife Mary and four young children. In 1880 he purchased 50 hectares of farmland west of Blenheim and named it Caythorpe after his home village in Lincolnshire, England.
David grew crops such as wheat, barley, oats, peas and potatoes on his newly acquired property. He embraced early developed machinery such as ploughs, threshing machines and harvesters to increase productivity and reduce labour costs. He diversified into stock – sheep and cattle – and quickly became renown throughout NZ as a leading breeder of Lincoln and Romney sheep. In the 1920’s David began exporting animals to breeders in South Africa and South America.
In 1972 the family business was approached Montana wines (now Brancott Estate) visiting from Auckland who wanted to buy Caythorpe in its entirety. They declined and Montana ended up purchasing the neighbouring plots which became the very first large-scale vineyard in Marlborough.
In 1985 a member of the family passed away and the whole history of the farm was put at risk by not being able to pay the estate taxes due. This was the turn of fate which enabled planting of cherries in 1985 and the first vineyard (Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc) in 1987.
The time then came for the emergence of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Demand for grapes increased along with their value, and soon the vineyard provided the farm with an income stream far greater than the proportion of land it occupied and the family made it through the troubled times.
In 2015 Caythorpe Family Estate was established as a small producer of small parcel, super premium estate grown wines, with the assistance of Jeremy McKenzie as winemaker (500 cases produced only). The land use of Caythorpe is now approximately 60% winegrowing, 35% mixed cropping/animal production, and 5% cherry orchard.
The wines have already gained critical acclaim with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc awarded Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition – the world’s largest international wine competition – in only their second ever vintage. The addition of a wine brand to the business will ensure another chapter in the in the rich farming history of Caythorpe, and that will hopefully be continued into further generations…