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The energy of street art arrives at Pyramid Valley

The street art wall by leading Christchurch street artists, Morpork and Yikes that adorns Pyramid Valley’s new winery.

19 May 2014


The energy of street art arrives at Pyramid Valley

It was the Cranmer Cantina, a pop-up fundraising restaurant in Christchurch that Pyramid Valley Vineyards has been involved with since 2012, that sparked the connection with two of that city’s respected street artists whose work is now adorning a new winery just completed in North Canterbury.

Artists Morpork and Yikes have created an eight metre by four metre artwork on the inside back wall of Pyramid Valley’s new winery just completed.

Owner Claudia and Mike Weersing wanted to support the talent of street artists of Christchurch and invited them to visit the vineyard to commission a bespoke artwork.

“I wanted them to show their expression of Pyramid Valley and what they felt while they were here,” says Mrs Weersing. "The art was to be totally representative of their emotions when walking the property and their subsequent creativity.

“The art took four days to complete. It is a very emotional piece for me and it embraces everything about what we do here at Pyramid and the gifts of life we enjoy living in the country.”

It was the grand opening of Oi You Rise when Claudia Weersing, who was instrumental in forming Cranmer Cantina to raise funds for various Christchurch charities, met street artist, Morpork. “That moment was very special for me, I immediately connected with Morpork and had a guided tour through some of the work he and Yikes had been doing,” says Mrs Weersing.

“It was obvious to me that these artists needed the support of the community to allow for their true expression of what it is like living in a post earthquake city. We have been most fortunate to see the evolution of street art across our city today; it has taken sad empty sites and given them life again.”

Morpork and Yikes visited the vineyard while the winery was under construction and together walked the property to get a sense of the style that is unique to Pyramid Valley, and developed their work that depicts the philosophies, flora and fauna of the property.

The new winery has been built to be completely self-sufficient, so now everything is at the home property in North Canterbury. The area will provide enough space to not only make the Growers Collection and the Home Collection under one roof, but also to allow storage and dispatch to happen from the one location.

“This will give us complete control over the whole winemaking and logistics process, which is a huge benefit for us” says Managing Director Caine Thompson.

In keeping with the tradition of growing all of its fruit using organic and biodynamic practices, the new winery has been built with energy conservation in mind. “We use very little energy in our wine making process. We have no pumps as we gravity feed, we have no filtering devices as we naturally settle, and we have no heating or cooling systems.

“The winery is very well insulated and because it’s relatively small, we can use nature’s elements to heat and cool wine. This is simply done by removing tanks in the evening to cool and returning them inside to warm wrapped with blankets each morning. Being such a small highly focused winery, each tank can be individually treated this way.

“Energy consumption is minute and as a result, our energy footprint is one of the lowest in the industry, way below industry benchmarks,” says Mr Thompson.

Pyramid Valley continues to evolve and develop as a state of the art, natural wine producer, being not only internationally renowned for the quality of wine, but also for its ability to ask questions and to challenge the status quo and current paradigm.

“This street art piece is in line with the company’s ‘outside the square thinking’ that keeps it on the edge, and keeps people thinking. This continues to position Pyramid Valley as New Zealand’s most exciting and provocative wine producer; we’re always asking what is next.”


Mike and Claudia Weersing came to New Zealand in 1996, when Mike began making wine with Tim and Judy Finn at Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson. After a long and intensive search to find a site for their own vineyard, they purchased a farm in the Pyramid Valley, near Waikari in North Canterbury, in 2000.

The vineyard of 2.2 hectares planted in four separate blocks, has been biodynamically managed from inception. The clay-limestone soils are married to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, planted on scarp slopes, at a density of 10,000-12,000 vines per hectare. The Home Collection blocks are named after the weed varieties predominant in each, which also reflect the different soils.

Grapes for the Growers Collection are supplied by admired colleagues around the country, and with sites, soils, and varieties different than those of the Home Collection.

Mike studied oenology and viticulture in Burgundy. He has worked extensively in the vineyards and cellars of Europe, and has made wine in France and in Spain. New world vintages include apprenticeships with James Halliday at Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley of Australia.

Claudia is a committed biodynamicist and an essential part of everything at Pyramid Valley.

“Wine to us is a genie, genius loci; our job is to coax it from its rock to bottle. Every gesture we make, in vineyard and winery, is a summons to this spirit of place. Biodynamics, hand-based viticulture, low yields, natural winemaking – these are some of the means we’ve adopted better to record and transmit this voice.” Mike and Claudia Weersing.

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