The Askerne Estate winery and vineyard site was acquired in 1993 by John and Kathryn Loughlin. John and Kathryn were wine lovers who moved from Wellington to Hawke’s Bay after careers in the Finance and Property sectors respectively.
They chose the Askerne site for its mix of soils and particularly the very free-draining former river bed. The site had previously been used to grow asparagus and later as a stud farm for Texel sheep. The original block was 11 hectares. The first vines were planted in 1993.
Since the start of the project, John has worked in various business roles to finance the development of the business and Kathryn has managed the business.
The first wines were made in 1996 at the Waimaramara Estate Winery which was then owned by John’s father Dr John Loughlin. The initial plantings were in white varietals that did not compete with Waimaramara Estate which focussed on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominant reds. The cellar door was opened in February 1997 selling both the Askerne white wines and the Waimaramara Estate red wines.
From 1997 the wines were made by Sorrelle Griffiths and the wine achieved significant successes with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend from that vintage. The first dessert wines were made from the 1998 vintage.
Following the sale of the Waimaramara Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc vines were planted in 1998. The winemaking activities were moved to an extension of the cellar door building in 1999.
In 2000 a further nine adjoining hectares was acquired. The first red wines were made from the 2001 vintage.
Craig Thomas joined the team as winemaker for the 2002 to 2009 vintages.
The current winery building and canopy were completed late and only hours before being required for the 2004 vintage.
Christine Harris joined the team as Cellar Door/ Sales Manager in September 2009.
Evert Nijzink was the winemaker for the 2010 to 2012 vintages.
Ant MacKenzie is the current winemaker.