Sam Rouse is the first ever recipient of the Gourmet Traveller Wine Young New Zealand Winemaker of the Year award, open to those under 35.
I hope everyone at home is doing okay during these difficult surreal times. It's been 22 months since I was last home in February 2020, and I miss everyone and everything dearly.
Here in the States, we're getting ready to release our newest McBride Sisters Collection Reserve wines. This is the next chapter of our wine story and is inspired by my formative years growing up in Aotearoa, which ultimately shaped who I am as a person and entrepreneur. Since we're old friends, I wanted to give you a bit of the back story and a preview of our launch plans for these delicious wines.
Although I was born in Los Angeles and moved to Blenheim when I was six, I consider myself a Kiwi - multicultural and multinational. After we landed in New Zealand, I split time between my mum's family in Marlborough and my foster family in Auckland (mum passed away shortly after we moved to Blenheim from the States).
This experience introduced me to two cultures early on that were both vastly different from American culture. My experiences ranged in the extremes from the adventures of agricultural entrepreneurs planting Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in the early days of the budding wine industry, to whānau gatherings at the family marae in the Bay of Plenty. The commonality between the two? Both are 'people of the land; who value community, stewardship and the great honour and responsibility that comes with it.
Now when it comes to the Reserve wines and our vision, my sister Robin and I really pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones. We were also really patient, something that's not a natural trait of the McBride family. Each of these wines tell a story - of the liquid and of our childhood, from our journey before finding each other to our joint story together. These narratives framed our creative process from variety, vineyard selection and style of wine, to naming and label artwork.
We purposefully selected similar varietals because we wanted to showcase the range in wine profile and style. The winegrowing regions where Robin and I grew up can be so similar, yet so different. That's the kismet of our sister story - the crazy similarities in the paces we grew up and the fact that we were able to find each other, despite being an ocean apart. Most importantly, we wanted to continue the wine journey from our core McBride Sisters Collection, for those who have been riding with and supporting us on this magical wine voyage between California and Aotearoa since day one. Always top of mind is our community of 'fearless foodies' and the 'wine curious' who want to explore culture through cuisine from around the world. The gals (and gents) who trust the McBride Sisters have got you, and will guide you to complement and enhance the food, mood and vibe with incredible wines.
I'm really excited for our wine team (and the entire company) as we embark on this launch. These wines are my personal ode and love letter from Aotearoa, supported by some MAGICAL women winemakers, wine business operators, and let me not forget our small in number, mighty crew of fellas between the two countries. Our Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) Pinot Noir and our Rebels Gamay from Central Otago will debut and release to consumers at retail and online in the United States in March. Robin has two Reserve wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey that we released in Fall of '21, which received 91 and 92+ point scores from Wine Enthusiast - we were also honoured with a Wine Enthusiast American Winery of the Year nomination for the entire portfolio (YAS Amy Butler and Diana Hawkins!) - that completes or limited edition of McBride Sisters Reserves. This set of four cool climate wines from both the northern and southern hemispheres will be poured at Saison Restaurant, the only three-star Michelin Restaurant in San Francisco, upon launch and release of the Aotearoa wines.
Covid has been such a bastard, but in many ways it has reinforced and brought into clear focus the most important things in life. Good health, family, friends, culture, community and of course the importance of excellent wine!
I'll be back for harvest (hoping I don't jinx it!)...