Future Makers - Ozone 17.6.21
Our first Future Makers dinner at Ozone stemmed from us considering what the future of wine looks (and tastes) like in this country. The New Zealand wine industry as we know it has only really been established since the late 1970’s. Wine has certainly been produced in this country before that, but it’s our modern industry that has grabbed the world’s attention, and it shares the sensibilities of Europe’s best; namely the production of wines that express place, and the pursuit of excellence.
It’s exceptional what the pioneers of our industry have achieved in just over four decades. Many of these pioneers are still very involved and continue to lead. At By The Bottle however, we’re fascinated to know who will be not only leading our future industry, but also challenging it’s conventions.
Fortunately, many names come to mind, and our Future Maker events have been launched to connect with these very people. On the 17th of June we were so grateful to have Rosie Finn of Neudorf, Hayden Penny of Organised Chaos, and Jake Dromgool of 144 Islands join us for dinner. Bringing these three very passionate people together highlighted the many different ways it’s now possible to produce wine, progress and innovate.
Rosie Finn - Neudorf
Rosie was born into one of our pioneering wine families. Her parents, Tim and Judy Finn planted vines in Nelson in 1978 and have firmly established themselves as industry leaders. The quality of the wine they’ve produced from clay gravels in the Moutere Hills speaks to that, as does their continued drive to tread gently on this earth, notably in their conversion to organic production.
Having studied design and photography, Rosie set off to London to pursue a career in those fields. In landing a job working for Mel Brown, a tireless ambassador for New Zealand wine in the UK, her career took a turn towards the industry she grew up in. Given there’s so much more to producing wine than just winemaking, Rosie realised her experience and creativity could be applied within this industry and at Neudorf itself. With Tim and Judy looking towards eventual retirement, Rosie has taken on a marketing and sales role at Neudorf, with winemaking in the hands of Todd Stevens.
In Europe, it’s common that great wine estates are expected to be passed down through generations. It’s without parental pressure and by her own choice that Rosie has taken on her role. Listening to her speak gives us the sense that we’ll see the passionate continuation of excellence at Neudorf. A Future Maker indeed.
These are expressions of the maritime climate and the clay gravels of the region. Aromatic varieties like Riesling and Pinot Gris are opulent and rich, but balanced with juicy acidity. The Chardonnays and Pinot Noir are some of our country's finest, both having density and structure.
Hayden Penny - Organised Chaos
With experience in Australia, Spain, California and Bulgaria, the wine region that Hayden most strongly connects with is Hawkes Bay where he learnt his craft. The region is also home to some big players in the industry with a lot of money and vineyard holdings. Organised Chaos has been cleverly established by Hayden the enormous investment required in vineyards and a winery. Instead he sources fruit from 3 organic practising growers. With a full time winemaking position at Te Awanga Estate, Organised Chaos is his side hustle, not to understate the thought and hard work that goes into it.
The wine styles follow Hayden’s theme of challenging convention. He’s chosen alternative varieties like Chenin Blanc and Gamay, and his expressions of classic Hawke's Bay varieties are lighter, leaner and fresher. His Chardonnay could be described as Chablis-like, made with fruit from limestone soils and left racy and pure. His Syrah is immediate, juicy and bright, avoiding the ‘bigger is better’ style of some other relational expressions.
Jake Dromgool - 144 Islands
It would be easy to assume we’ve fully explored the viticultural potential of our nation by now. Jake Dromgool of 144 Islands is showing us otherwise however, planting a myriad of different varieties on his parent’s farm, 300 metres above sea level and overlooking the Bay of Islands. It’s a unique opportunity he has to make his mark in a much lesser known wine region.
Northland is in fact the first place that grapes were planted in New Zealand. The region’s humidity and fertile soils increase disease pressure though, making it a more difficult place to produce wine, versus the drier climates and less fertile alluvial soils further south. But with elevation on his side, and with careful selection of site and variety, Jake has managed to mitigate these pressures. He and wife Melika practice organic farming, and have taken the leap to making 144 Islands their full time gig. It’s one we think they won’t regret.
Having planted both classic and lesser grown varieties, Jake is cleverly playing the long game to see what will work in his place. Both white and red field blends are a delicious result of this consideration. There’s also a Rosé that you’ll just want to drink on a Northland beach as soon as possible, and very very well judged Chardonnay.