It is 1980, and a pilot called Mike Tiller flies his plane over a block of land in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. With a bird’s eye view, Mike Tiller discovers a precious pocket of land; a very special piece of earth with fertile soil and a unique aspect. Not once did it attract his attention but every time he passed overhead on his flight path to nearby Blenheim Airport.
Mike’s airborne vision was the beginning of Isabel Estate, one of the pioneering Marlborough wineries that unlocked the viticultural potential of the iconic wine region. It remains one of the oldest in the area. Mike and his wife Robyn built a winery on the site and named it in honour of his mother, Isabel. Their ambition was to produce ultra-premium classic grape varieties that were a true expression of Marlborough. Throughout the 1980s the couple planted key noble varieties Chardonnay followed by Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. The chosen parcel of land delivered fruit of exceptional quality, and it wasn’t long before it was in high demand from premium and internationally renowned New Zealand wine producers. In the natural order of things Isabel Estate released its single-vineyard wine in 1994, the Isabel Estate Pinot Noir.