In 1987 John Hancock met Robert and Robyn Wilson in their London restaurant called Bleeding Heart. Over a bottle of John's award-winning Chardonnay, the concept of a Hawke's Bay winery was born. They were convinced they could produce world-class red wines as well as white in this region of New Zealand. By 1996 they produced the first small vintage on off-site premises. And in 1997 Stage 1 of the winery was built on its current site and completed in time for the 1997 vintage. The first Gimblett Road wines, barrel-aged, were released in 1998 (vintage 1997); Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Syrah, to critical acclaim and a number of gold medals and trophies. They have since expanded and planted many other grape varieties.