John recognised the outstanding potential of Hawkes Bay's Gimblett Gravels winegrowing district and in 1993 Trinity Hill became one of the region's early pioneers, planting grape vines on a barren plot on the former bed of the Ngaruroro River.
The traditional Hawkes Bay grape varieties of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were planted. Convinced the terroir was equally suited to Southern European grape varieties, Syrah and Viognier were also planted and were followed by experimental plantings of Tempranillo, Arneis and Montepulciano.
By 1996 they produced the first small vintage on off-site premises. And in 1997 Stage 1 of The Winery was built on its current site on State Highway 50 and completed in time for the 1998 vintage. The Cellar Door was also established and Pinot Gris vines were planted in front of the winery. Winemaking facilities combining the traditional with the modern are incorporated in the completion of the Barrel Hall in 1998.
The first Gimblett Road wines, barrel-aged, were released in 1998 (vintage 1997); Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Syrah, to critical acclaim and a number of gold medals and trophies.
In 2000, a further 20 hectare parcel of prime Gimblett Gravels land was purchased, named "Gimblett Stones" where Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot plus areas of Tempranillo, Syrah and Viognier were planted.
By 2001 The Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association was set up with 34 wineries and winegrowers from a "terroir"-defined area of the old Ngaruroro Riverbed, including Gimblett Road. Trinity Hill was and remains a founding member.
In 2002, the first vintage super-premium wine Homage Syrah was made. When it was released in 2004 it received critical acclaim world-wide. The 2006 vintage of Homage Syrah won the Supreme Award at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in 2007.
And the story continues…