Our Story

We seek to reflect the characteristic expression of our site and soil in the wines we make, looking for consistent quality, fruit concentration and expression of terroir.




Bell Hill Vineyard was established by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen at an old lime quarry in the Weka Pass, North Canterbury, NZ. A unique site with limestone derived soils and north facing hillside exposures. From 1997 through to 2009 we planted two hectares at very high density with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We adopted the Burgundian model of vineyard architecture with vines low to the ground (40cm) and a plant density of 9,259 to12,500 vines/ha. All plantings from 2005 to 2009 are at 11,363 vines/ha (1.1m row spacing by 0.8m vine spacing). High density reduces yield per vine and encourages deep root penetration to explore the soil profile - its water, flavour, and elements. We aim to reflect the nature of our site and soil in the wines we grow, working toward consistent quality, fruit tension and expression of terroir – all combining to give a sense of place. The management of the vineyard is high on detail with a lot of manual input being very influential in achieving its true potential.

The Weka Pass area was previously unplanted in grapes, we were drawn to the pure, marine-based limestone soils and calcareous clays. The subsurface glauconitic clay (rich in iron and magnesium) is found below the layers of lime from a minimum depth of 1.5m. The Roadblock and Slope are rich in dense, calcareous clays bringing another influence on our wines. We have been farming organically and biodynamically since the 2007/2008 growing season and see this as paramount to increased soil and vine health as well as fruit quality and expression. We achieved full Bio-Gro Organic Certification on March 1, 2015.



Bell Hill was first surveyed and named in 1917 for Charles Trounce to conduct a lime quarrying operation. This continued until the late 1930’s and the current Waikari Limeworks is situated nearby. On settling here, we found remnants of the machinery used for quarrying. This gave Bell Hill an interesting historical as well as geographical aspect and encouraged us to express a connection with location and history in considering the wine label (the name Bell Hill comes from its bell-curve shape on the southern side, once the first view for travellers coming into the Waikari Valley). The “Old Weka Pass Road” was from our first releases of younger vines and features the Maori drawings found on a nearby rock overhang in the Weka Pass painted 500-1000 years ago. The moa fossil discovery at our vineyard in May 2001 gave us a glimpse even further back into New Zealand’s natural history. Our first “Bell Hill” wines were released from the 2003 vintage and the label features our “bellhill” logo. Bell Hill is a long-term project driven by our desire to achieve the absolute in wine definition from this site. In 2015 we added a neighbouring paddock (The North Arm) to our fold giving us potential for future endeavours. This is organically certified, and planted in 2020, 2021 and 2022 at 10,632, 12,987 and 18,181 vines/ha. We increased our land holdings in 2020 and 2021 to complement our vineyard systems in the direction of regenerative farming, mixed cropping, animals, increased wetland area and viticultural inputs. These parcels surround Bell Hill and are in the BioGro organic transition programme.

Finally, vintage variation means you never stop evaluating what you do and for which outcome, striving for excellence and learning from its challenges…



Our wines are all grown at Bell Hill and include Bell Hill Pinot Noir and Bell Hill Chardonnay - a selective and more structural blend with earthy and complex notes for the Pinot Noir and a great expression of soil minerality as the core for the Chardonnay. These wines are selected from our older blocks and contributed to from our younger blocks as they develop over time. We also have the Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir and Old Weka Pass Road Chardonnay – siblings to the Bell Hill wines, often from younger fruit which gives accessibility earlier on but still showing the thread of soil influence. With vine maturity and positive seasonal influences, all blocks have the potential to become part of the Bell Hill blends. Each block is harvested and fermented separately, allowing the wines to evolve in barrel and show their true character before blending. Single Parcel wines have also become part of Bell Hill’s profile and the Limeworks Chardonnay 2016 is the first release in this phase of our offerings. The Shelf Pinot Noir 2018 will follow. Methode Traditionelle started in the early years and resumed from 2017 has become part of our future…

Vertical vintage tastings over the years have shown us our wines truly express minerality of site. The next 20 years will tell us more, but we already know, at Bell Hill, the site is strong – not just in the soil and visual sense but also in momentum and character, change and movement – it demands absolute adaptability, and we must move with it – allowing it to show itself and shaping our responses to it for a return in the glass and longevity.

At Bell Hill we attribute the following descriptors to the influence of active lime in our soils:

In Chardonnay – minerality, stone fruit, wet stone, white flower, and flinty complexity, saline and salivating with marine elements, integrated, lengthening acidity, linearity, tight structure, persistent and tactile.

In Pinot Noir – fruit development and character in the savoury, earthy and dried herb spectrum with lifted perfume and spice, iron and blood aromas, mineral and saline notes, supple but very supportive tannin structures, slow evolution with gaining impact, persistent and structural acidity throughout the palate adding to the length, focus, and overall impression of the wine.

Our wines are under screwcap closure, and we encourage decanting recent vintages, including Chardonnay.