Brancott Estate, long known as Montana, once the dominant producer and exporter of new zealand wine, responsible for about half the country’s production. It was founded in 1934 when Ivan Yukich planted a vineyard in the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland. His sons, Frank and Mate, adopted the vineyard’s name, Montana, when they founded a wine company 30 years later. Montana helped drive, and greatly profited from, New Zealand’s rapid rise in wine consumption from the early 1970s.
Increased wine production was originally achieved with the help of contracted grape growers, particularly in Gisborne and later in Hawke’s Bay. In 1973, the North American wine and spirit giant Seagram bought 45% of Montana, the additional capital and expertise allowing the company to invest heavily in vineyards, specifically pioneering grape-growing in Marlborough. Seagram sold its share in the company in 1987.