Yoshiaki and Kyoko Sato
Owners & winemakers: Yoshiaki & Kyoko Sato
Vineyards: 3.2ha of estate vineyards, plus purchased fruit
Vineyard management: Certified organic with biodynamic practices
Soils: Schist and alluvial
Grapes grown: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc
Annual production: 30,000 bottles
- “What we want to achieve is simple transformation of our grapes into wines, together with the beautiful natural biological harmony in our vineyard.” – Yoshiaki & Kyoko Sato
After twelve years of working in international banking, Yoshiaki and Kyoko Sato decided they were ready to pursue their passion for wine. The husband and wife team quit their jobs and traveled to work at wineries in Burgundy, the Loire, and Alsace, as well as Felton Road and Mount Edward in New Zealand. They founded the Sato Wines brand in 2009, and began making wines from purchased organic fruit. Seven years later, they finally established their home vineyard in Central Otago. The two main vineyard sites from which they purchase fruit are Northburn Station, with sandy loam soil over river gravels, and Pisa Terrace, with gravelly loam over schist and quartz. Both are certified organic. The estate vineyard is planted on a steep site in the Cromwell Basin subregion of Central Otago, and at over 300m elevation, it sits above the cloud layer that often blankets the area. The first vintage of estate wines was produced in 2019.
Their goal is to make “beautiful clean natural wines,” with minimal human intervention. Wines are produced with no added yeast, no additives, and minimal sulfur at bottling. As Yoshi points out, sometimes the simplest winemaking can be the most difficult: “We have to employ the best of our knowledge with honesty and a modest attitude” to avoid faults which they feel would obscure the purity of the fruit. They avoid new oak and instead seek to create a more delicate, balanced expression of Central Otago Pinot Noir.