Mills Reef Winery was established in 1989 by the Preston family, with the first shipment of grapes to the Winery from the famous Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand. The long sunshine hours and cool coastal nights help develop our unique flavour concentration. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and the “Bordeaux” varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the flagship varieties from this, New Zealand’s oldest wine region.
Mills Reef’s aim is to produce premium varietal wines, its as simple as that. Helping Mills Reef achieve this aim has meant utilising the combined talents of the Preston family in every aspect of the Winery.
W.M. (Paddy) Preston: Winemaker/Founder
Paddy Preston first began Mills Reef as a way of furthering his lifetime hobby and interest in wine-making. For the past 21 years, Paddy has been making wines in the Bay of Plenty, with great success.
Seeing the early success of wineries like Kumeu River and Cloudy Bay in the late eighties gave Paddy the reassurance that the world was beginning to recognise New Zealand as a premium wine growing region. As Paddy states “I always knew New Zealand had the potential to produce wines on par with any of the famous wine regions of world.”
So in 1989 he purchased a fully producing Hawkes Bay vineyard with the goal of producing wines to rival both the Old World classics and the new wine-stars of New Zealand. From an initial plot of 20 acres, the vineyard at Mere Road has grown to 40 acres, with the purchase of an adjoining vineyard in 1995 .
At the same time Mills Reef has worked closely with a select group of contract growers to allow a total annual crush of up to 600 tonnes. Mills Reef’s five year goal is to reach an annual crush of 1 000 tonnes. Paddy is regularly in the Hawkes Bay, with both contract growers and viticulturists, who he relies on for ongoing advice.
Paddy has been the driving force of Mills Reef, often descibed “as an artist, a person who is single minded in seeking to produce the perfect wine.”
Tim Preston: Winemaker
Tim Preston has been involved in winemaking and winery production for the past 20 years. As well as assisting his father, Tim is responsible for the logistics involved with the winery. He oversees Mills Reef’s warehousing and storage facilities, as well as the expansive visitor Tasting Room at the winery. Tim conducts tastings and promotions of Mills Reef Wines both domestically and overseas. His knowledge from the vineyard through the wine making process provides genuine and informative information to customers.
Our new winery, situated in Bethlehem, Bay of Plenty opened in 1995. It was as created to provide a focal point for the Mills Reef brand, and captures the same elements of quality and style that our wines have come to represent.
The Art Deco style architecture is a reflection on the Hawkes Bay and specifically Napier, which is regarded as the Art Deco capital of the world, due to the Napier earthquake that levelled the city in 1931. The rebuilding of the city was in the middle of the Art Deco era.
This major Tauranga landmark has frequently been acclaimed as one of the most stylish and attractive winery buildings in the country. The complex boasts full winemaking and bottling facilities, a 500-barrel cellar, an aged wine cellar and spacious wine tasting areas. An award-winning 150-seat restaurant completes the picture, providing the ambience which complements fine wines and cuisine.
Mills Reef : The Brand
The Mills Reef name has quite a story behind it. The family’s original idea was to have a brand name that was not only unique but also one that has meaning.
Paddy Preston’s birth name is Warren Mills Preston. The Mills name is a reference to Paddy’s great grandfather. Charles Mills was a sea captain but was also involved in mining pursuits in early New Zealand, this was prior to becoming a prominent Member of Parliament from 1890 - 1908, latterly as the Minister of Trade and Customs.
Mills Reef then is reference to Charles Mills’ exploits both watching for reefs at sea and mining for reefs of gold. Whether or not Charles Mills ever found his “Reef” we can’t say for sure, but we do know the Preston family has certainly found theirs, in the pleasure and enjoyment of making Mills Reef wines.
Elspeth - Named in honour of Paddy’s mother, this is Mills Reef’s finest range of wines. The boutique nature is reflected in the limited volumes produced. Powerful fruit driven wines with strong varietal definition and structure, complemented with added complexity through barrel ageing.
Reserve - Designed for the discerning wine drinker, fabulous food wines. Chardonnays and reds are 100% fermented and aged in French oak barrels. Sauvignon Blanc is partially fermented and aged in French oak.
Mills Reef - Produced from premium grapes, each wine is crafted to be complex and full of flavour. Both red and white wines are drinkable young and well suited to food.
Right from the first vintage of the Mills Reef label in 1989, the Preston family’s efforts have received significant critical acclaim. Mills Reef Wines have won over 250 medals at national and international competition.
It is successes like these that have helped Mills Reef to become a popular wine with New Zealand drinkers, and provides a platform for growing export sales to countries around the globe.
P.S. wine in motion GmbH does not represent Mills Reef in the following countries: Ireland, Italy, Switzerland.
If you have questions for any other region, please do not hesitate to ask us.