Monday, 19 February 2024 15:25

The world's hardest working Master of Wine?

Written by  Bob Campbell
Nicholas Paris MW Nicholas Paris MW

OPINION: At 47 years of age Nicholas Paris has achieved far more than most of us hope to in a lifetime.

With the help of his New Zealand-born father and brother, Stanley and Alan, he has helped restore an historic stone winery dating back to the 1870s and built two luxury cottages and an underground barrel cellar. The Monte Christo winery in Clyde, Central Otago, is now open for business.

Nicholas lives in Connecticut, about two hours outside New York City, with his wife Heidi and four children aged 11-18. They are building a house in North Carolina which they hope to move into in a couple of years. Nicholas has worked for E & J Gallo, the world’s largest wine producer, for 18 years. He was the first Master of Wine employed by E & J Gallo and has held a variety of positions there including sales, public relations, education, importing, and wine consulting. He gets to taste all domestic wines produced from 18 Gallo-owned wineries.

Nicholas didn’t have a light bulb moment that made him suddenly fall in love with wine, but travelled a lot with his family which allowed his passion to develop gradually. Travel also exposed him to different languages and dialects and Nicholas speaks five languages fluently: English, Spanish, French, Italian and German. He admits that his love of wine and language received a boost after spending a summer in France’s beautiful Loire Valley.

His first job in the wine industry was at Zachy’s Fine Wine and Liquors in New York. After six months he was promoted to become auction director at Christie’s Auction House, which involved regular travel between New York and Los Angeles, as well as the opportunity to taste a lot of very old wines. He recalls attending a tasting of an 1864 Château Lafite with, the late Michael Broadbent, a legendary wine auctioneer who commented that “a young wine, still has 50 years to go”.

Nicholas passed his Master of Wine exam in 2014, and recalls the phone call from a United Kingdom telephone number at around midnight. A very English voice said, “Do you know why I’m calling?”. Then, after a long pause, “Congratulations you are an MW,” he says. “The weight of the world went off my shoulders as I experienced an enormous sense of relief.” Although Nicholas was born in the United States, he has dual citizenship with New Zealand and seems likely to spend more time here, especially during the annual grape harvest.

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