Making Marlborough wines exclusively, Astrolabe is a producer that has a strong sense of knowing and loving ‘where they are’ in the world. To that end, they are less like a modern wine business and more like an Old World family negociant or winemaker – genuinely reflecting their local wine tradition as much as they advance it. Thanks to this focus, Astrolabe describe themselves as a ‘winemaker label’. Although this label is now an institution and the style is consistent – consistently superb at least – it is their experimentation and focussed exploration of new regional possibilities that make Astrolabe seem as much a ‘project’ as a brand.
It began in 1982, after Simon Waghorn settled in Marlborough and joined with friends and family to start their own label. Beginning in the Waihopai Valley, the local expertise gained allowed Astrolabe to establish a leading reputation for Marlborough styles, of which Sauvignon Blanc was naturally the flagship. As the business grew so did the grower sources – and the interest in sub-regionality – so that Astrolabe’s range now includes multiple streams of both ‘Marlborough’ and ‘Valleys’ ranges, not only of Sauvignon Blanc but also Chardonnay, aromatics, Pinot Noir and even Chenin Blanc.
As a boutique producer dedicated to the varieties and landscapes of Marlborough, they draw from growers in superb sites in each of the major valleys, showcasing the best and most distinctive characteristics that Marlborough’s sub-regions have to offer.
This diversity is a bold statement in a world that prefers simplified brands. It speaks not only to the label’s founding principle of exploration - reflected in its historic name - but also more generally to Astrolabe’s commitment to their vocation and craft. Their wines are encouraged to express not only terroir differences but also variations of vintage. The only consistent element is the superb sense of balance and poise that Simon brings to the winemaking.