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Stelvins are go, go, go
© Sue Courtney
30 June 2001

Stelvin cap Well it is finally happening! Stelvins are go, go, go.

Last year I asked as many New Zealand producers as I could 'Will you use Stelvin (or screwcap) closures on your wines?'.

Some emphatically replied 'No'. Others said they would adopt a 'wait and see' attitude.

One producer, Auckland-based Kumeu River Wines, was in the former category.

'But Michael', I said, 'If you bottled your Kumeu River Chardonnay in Stelvin, people would take notice and think if he is doing it, then this closure must be pretty special'. (For those who don't know, Kumeu River Chardonnay is consistently rated in the top handful of NZ Chardonnays).

That my pleading did not convince winemaker, Michael Brajkovich MW, was not a surprise.

Then a couple of months ago I was alerted to some of Michael's comments on Robert Joseph's site (click on 'comment' and scroll down to a snippet entitled 'Cri de Coeur'). Here he says, 'We are getting further along the track with Stelvin closures'.

I e-mailed him and said 'What's the story'.

'How things can change so quickly', he replied.

It seems that the cork taint in their wines has been unacceptable, so bad in fact, that Kumeu River Wines decided to withdraw the Kumeu River Chardonnay 1998 from the US market.

So now Kumeu River are committed to Stelvin and from the 2001 vintage they will be closing the 2001 Brajkovich Chardonnay and the 2001 Kumeu River Pinot Gris with this closure. They will also do some of the Brajkovich Merlot and some of the 2001 Kumeu River Chardonnay as a trial.

For me, who is so susceptible to any cork taint - TCA or the other faults caused by a faulty cork - this is fantastic news.

But Kumeu River is not the only wine producer who will use a screwcap closure. John Forrest, of Forrest Estate Wines, gave the first positive response from those I asked who was in favour of the closure. Although at that stage he had no idea of the logistics.

This was before the Air New Zealand Wine Awards last November when 36% of the wines in the Riesling class were detected as being 'corked'.

Now a group of New Zealand wineries have formed the 'Screwcap Closure Initiative' and are committed to using this alternative closure for 2001.

Joining Kumeu River and Forrest Estate are Lawson's Dry Hills, Kim Crawford Wines, Trinity Hill, Wither Hills, Matua Valley, Framingham and Seresin Estate while many other winemakers have pledged their support.

Click here for the actual press release.

© Sue Courtney 2001

Check out the Screwcap Wine Seal Resource page - here on

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