Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in late 1993, Semillon and Riesling in 1994, Chardonnay in 1995 and Gewürztraminer in 1996. The first wines were made at the Waimarama Estate Winery (then owned by Dr John Loughlin, John’s father) in 1996. These wines were released under our initial white label with green trees. Planting continued year after year as funding allowed and the product range broadened.
In February 1997, the Askerne cellar door was opened to the public and it also sold Waimarama Estate’s red wines, including the then famous Waimarama Dessert Cabernet. The 1997 vintage produced very fine wines from Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay which confirmed the potential of the site.
Askerne commenced exporting with wines from the 1997 vintage. It was a complete surprise to us when our Sauvignon Blanc won an award in The Netherlands as the best match with a cigar. It was not something we thought of in making the wine, nor have subsequently aspired to.
In 1998 Dr John Loughlin sold Waimarama Estate Winery and from the 1999 vintage Askerne’s wines were made on site. The cellar door building was expanded to accommodate winemaking activities. The first red wine grapes were planted. Also, in 1999 the first Botrytis Semillon wine was made, and the first componentry was created for the Noble Noir wine which was first released in 2013.