Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters.
Clive planted the bare, stony home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980; in doing so, he was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Ata Rangi's first vineyard covered less than five hectares on deep, free-draining alluvial gravels, the original course of a local river which flows from the hills that flank the eastern side of the valley.
In 2012, Clive, who is also an avid conservationist, was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to both viticulture and conservation in New Zealand. In January 2019, Helen was awarded 2019 New Zealand Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine, a superb recognition of her 16 years’ work at Ata Rangi.
Ata Rangi is renowned for its Pinot Noir and according to Tim Atkin MW, is widely regarded as New Zealand's top Pinot Noir producer. They have been awarded Five Stars in the '2013 Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification' by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, for the gold medal standard of their recent vintages. At the 2010 International Pinot Noir Conference, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir was given the title of 'Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa' (which translates from Maori as 'Great Growth of New Zealand' or 'Grand Cru'), in recognition of their unique site and of the family's commitment to evolving and developing New Zealand Pinot Noir.
The oldest Pinot Noir vines, which include a clone allegedly smuggled from Burgundy, were planted in 1980. After the absence of a few years, we have once again shipped the ‘McCrone Vineyard’ Pinot Noir. Planted in 2001 using a mix of clones, the vineyard is just around the corner from Ata Rangi’s home block. Its remarkably different soils, with a compact seam of clay, produce a silkier wine than the textural style of the Martinborough Pinot Noir. The winemaking is exactly the same as for the fabled Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, so it is fascinating to see two distinct, site-specific expressions of this wonderful grape.
Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines, including the very fine 'Craighall' Chardonnay which is barrel fermented using indigenous yeasts and sourced from low-yielding Mendoza clones, the oldest of which are over 30 years old. The luscious Pinot Gris, from the Lismore block, is harvested relatively late to enable the grapes to develop their full flavour profile, while the hand-picked Sauvignon Blanc, partially barrel-fermented, focuses as much on texture and length of palate as it does on the enticing aromatics.