Kennedy Point Vineyard

Toasting the success of a dream

  • Kennedy Point Vineyard

    Susan and Neal in their vines.

“An amazing journey,” is how Kennedy Point Vineyard owner, Susan McCarthy describes the path she and her husband, Neal Kunimura have been on since starting their vineyard on Waiheke Island in 1996.

For the couple who are originally from Hawaii, it was a complete change of location, careers and lifestyle. The move came about as the result of visiting friends in New Zealand in 1994. Neal, who had long been interested in studying winemaking, requested a tour of the country’s premier wine regions as part of their holiday.

On the day before they flew home, they were taken to Waiheke Island and shown a piece of land that really captured Neal’s imagination. Over the next few months they purchased the property, relocated to Waiheke Island and began the process of establishing their vineyard.

The vineyard is situated on the western side of the island at picturesque Kennedy Point and surrounded by majestic, 300-year-old pohutukawa trees. “Our goal was to grow grapes and make wine but we also planted olives and developed a guest house for visitor accommodation.

“Because we didn’t have a large acreage, we realised we weren’t going to be a big player in the vineyard sense, therefore, we targeted ourselves to fit into the growing tourist industry on Waiheke. Having these different components has allowed us a full business,” says Susan.

Kennedy Point Vineyard’s cellar door is open seven days a week and the guest house all year round. It’s an idyllic seaside location for guests who can relax on the deck with a glass of wine and a platter of locally sourced food.

Business has grown gradually from its beginnings in 1996. Since then, Susan and Neal have added to their portfolio by developing four more vineyards: Oakura Bay, Whakarite Bay, Jasa Vineyard and Whakanewha Bay.

In 2010, Kennedy Point Vineyard attained organic status making it the only certified organic vineyard on the island. Now all their hard work is paying off and accolades are flowing in. In 2010, well- known New Zealand media personality and wine columnist, John Hawkesby said, “Waiheke’s Kennedy Point has had a good year with some rave reviews and a clutch of significant awards for a cross-section of their wines. This tiny producer is turning out to be the mouse that roared.”

Kennedy Point Vineyard is best known for its Syrah. Its 2007 Syrah won an International Wine Challenge trophy, which helped to boost their profile. “Although Syrah is our flagship wine, we also make a beautiful cabernet sauvignon. As well, we make single varieties of wine, such as Cabernet Franc and Malbec,” says Susan.

This year, Kennedy Point 2014 Extra Virgin Olive Oil won a Gold medal at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition, one of the largest competitions in the olive world.

Now, after 20 years, Susan and Neal are putting the property and business on the market. “It has been a wonderful opportunity – we have given it all our attention and energy. We look forward to having a rest and to the next stage of our lives,” says Susan.

Moore Stephens Markhams, Auckland director, Dennis Munn, has been with Susan and Neal from the beginning and has been a real asset, says Susan, whose role in their business is management, HR and sales. “When we first started with MYOB accounting software, Dennis spent all day here helping me to set it up. Fortunately, he’s a very patient man.

“At times, I struggled with not having a very good invoicing system and as we got bigger MYOB became too cumbersome. Now I have moved onto Xero accounting software and it’s made a huge difference. While Dennis has guided this, I’ve also had support from the staff at Moore Stephens Markhams.

“If I have a query about anything, I get a prompt response. Moore Stephens Markhams go out of their way to make sure their clients have all the information they need and the support they need to be successful.”

Published Summer 2014.

Serious about your success?