Getting to know... Nick Mills from Rippon
Getting to know... A series that aims to shine a light on New Zealand’s outstanding makers, producers, winegrowers and artisans.
In the first of this series, take a moment to get to know Nick Mills, winemaker and GM at his family estate Rippon.
Located on the shore of Lake Wanaka, Rippon has both a tremendous past and future. Percy Sargood bought the station in 1912, and his family, with great grandson Nick at the helm, continue in Nick’s words “listening to the land to decide what to grow”. Their ethos is inspiring; biodynamic practices nurture their relationship with the land where they now focus on growing 6 varieties, with mature vines as many as 40 years old.
As we mature as a wine growing country, our wine styles are evolving past being about immediate factors like primary fruit flavour, colour and alcohol. Rippon truly demonstrates this evolution with wines that are about beautiful texture and shape. For us it’s their taut, invigorating Riesling and nuanced Pinot Noir that are the most compelling.
Speaking of compelling, read on to get to know not just one of our great winegrowers, but a great wine communicator, Nick Mills.
My local is…
Kai Whaka Pai – In any other resort town in the world this pole primo spot in town would be contracted up to the teeth. It’s where the locals have their names on the pints, the food and people are fab and the 12 local beer taps are just all-time.
My defining moment in wine was…
Being born at Rippon to winegrowing parents. Closely followed by living in France for a year when we were kids, gaining a second language and being able to study winegrowing there as an adult. Then coming home.
My go-to knock off drink is…
Local Wanaka beer, there are so many good ones to choose from.
Favourite story about a vintage at Rippon?
The ones that stick out generally revolve around harvest parties and the latest of nights and I suspect they're best not repeated though, suffice to say, they're corkers. The fact of the matter is that while the seasons vary and, with each year, our understanding of what Rippon requires from us grows, the biggest variable is our people. Every year we have new team members join our full-time core and it is their faces, their stories and their voices that endure. So, looking back, I think of the teams of a particular vintage and the times we spent together, on the farm and off rather than one particular defining moment.
In the mornings you’ll find me...
Ideally in downward dog, most often in crouching tiger.
My go-to spot for a glass of wine in the South Island is...
Inspiration point: a lesser known, strictly invitation only spot on the Rippon property. You'll know it when you’re there.
Best kept secret in New Zealand?
Wanaka Station Park.
There is no better value than...
Any wine that by its purchase gives back to land as much pleasure to its drinker. Organic or biodynamic wine.
The best BYO in New Zealand is…
What's in the pipeline for Rippon?
We have some really exciting small projects lined up, products of the largest year at Rippon (2019) and a growing understanding amongst us of the land's potential. The longer we've spent working the land, the more confidence we have developed to see how Rippon, our farm, might express itself in different voices, albeit from the same parcels. We have put Riesling in barrel, we have kept Pinot out of barrel and we have bottled another one of our mature parcels as another single solo voice from within the farm. It feels good right now; the wines feel good too.