Mahana - Luxury in the best possible taste

by Philip Tetley Jones January 05, 2015

Nelson offers world-class produce and wines, plus a marvellous natural setting in which to enjoy them. In the last issue we introduced a luxury venue that brings all these good things together and serves them up amidst an internationally renowned art collection.

At Mahana in the Moutere Hills you’ll find this nexus of good taste. Built around a luxury lodge – Mahana Villa – the property is part of the Small Luxury Hotels group, which places it in very exclusive company. There’s a well-established vineyard on site, producing some of New Zealand’s finest pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and riesling under the control of master winemaker Michael Glover. The package is rounded out with fine dining from the kitchen of Executive Chef Jason Innes.

Michael Glover returned to Nelson earlier this year after 20 years building a reputation as one of Australia’s top winemakers with such names as Rothbury, Oakvale, Moorilla and Bannockburn. He also spent time in Europe, learning how the classic vintages of Burgundy and Italy attain their special character. According to Michael, it’s all about the terroir.

This issue, we asked Michael and Jason about the thinking behind this sophisticated blend of hospitality.

“Styles can be copied and techniques can be learned but the one thing that can’t be copied is the parcel of fruit that comes from a particular spot of the vineyard,” Michael says. 

The key to making wines in this unique corner of the world is the Moutere clay soils that enable vines to be dry-grown. With no irrigation systems pampering the grapes, what emerges is a pure expression of the land. In addition, the slopes and contours of the Moutere Hills landscape lend themselves to a boutique style of winemaking that’s closer to the family-owned plots of Burgundy than industrial-scale wine production.

This sustainable approach to winemaking continues after harvesting, with all grapes processed in Mahana’s winery that’s built over four levels. The systems are gravity-fed, enabling wines to be made without electrically powered processes. Michael is also a champion of the indigenous yeasts that ferment in their own sweet time and impart a unique character to the wine.

Michael Glover’s approach to winemaking – which might be summarised as sophisticated but organic – is similar to the philosophy Jason Innes brings to Mahana’s cuisine. As Executive Chef, Jason caters for occasions ranging from intimate dinners at the Villa to 200-seater events in the Cellars. Whatever the setting, each meal benefits from his determination to showcase the local produce.

Jason is passionate about making the most of Nelson’s bounty from the sea and land. Fresh produce from Mahana’s own gardens makes an appearance on every menu, supplemented with seafood, meat and artisan produce from the local growers. It’s all about working with the seasons and making the most of what’s available, from plump Nelson scallops to the freshest strawberries you can imagine. 

Drawing on 20 years’ professional experience in some of New Zealand’s top winery restaurants, Jason puts together menus every day to tempt the tastebuds of guests. Needless to say, each dish is perfectly matched with wines from the Mahana winery.

The final component of the Mahana experience is art. The owner and Art Curator, Glenn Schaeffer, has sprinkled the grounds and buildings with priceless pieces from some very big names. Shane Cotton, Gordon Walters and Milan Mrkusich will be familiar to fans of New Zealand art, while artists such as Jenny Holzer, Richard Long and Yayoi Kusuma add a striking international influence. 

Feeding the soul – not to mention the stomach and senses – is all part of the service at one of New Zealand’s most sophisticated luxury resorts.

5 unforgettable experiences at Mahana

Arrive by helicopter

With its own helipad, Mahana caters for airborne arrivals. It’s a great way to see the locale for the first time, whether you’re popping over from Wellington or touring the country in style.

Stage an amazing wedding or conference

More than just a boutique lodge, Mahana can cater for up to 200 guests at a wedding or business retreat. Many corporate clients find the matchless beauty of the setting inspires fresh thinking.

Sample some very special wines

If you’re tired of generic wines, Michael Glover and his team will introduce you to their intriguing versions of pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, made organically and aged to perfection.

Create your own bespoke tour

The team at Mahana will arrange outings and experiences that match your interests. Fly-fishing, heli-touring and gourmet food tasting are just a few of the possibilities.

Eat and sleep in an art gallery

With iconic art works dotting the grounds and adorning the walls, your stay will be artistic as well as hedonistic.

Philip Tetley Jones
Philip Tetley Jones


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