Wednesday, 03 June 2015 15:45

Young Guns - Justin Atkinson

Written by 
Justin Atkinson. Justin Atkinson.

Justin Atkinson aged 35 is a winemaker and viticultralist at Marsden Estate.

How Long Have You Worked In Northland?

This has been my fourth harvest at Marsden Estate

What Brought You Here?

Having grown up in Northland, the laid back outdoors-orientated lifestyle was a major drawcard. Also a great place to bring up our children.

My partner and I both have our folks living here so it’s really nice to have them about.

Where Have You Travelled In Wine To Get Here? 

I finished studying Winemaking and Viticulture at Nelson/Marlborough Institute of Technology in 2003. I have since worked a couple of harvests in each of the following regions; Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Chile. A year in Margaret River. A harvest in Canada (BC) and three in Gisborne. Great times. Such a good occupation for travelling.

What Do You Enjoy Most About Your Job?

The people I get to work with. You get to meet so many nice people with similar interests to you. And it’s a job where you are learning and problem solving every day. Great stimulation for the brain.

What Do You Enjoy Most About Northland?

As far as wine goes, it would have to be the great fruit we get to play with in the winery. At Marsden we also do a bit of contract winemaking for other vineyards. Pretty much most vineyards from Mangawhai to Kaitia so we see a lot of small parcels of usually pretty good fruit.

When You’re Not Making Wine Or Growing Grapes? 

I will either be hanging with my lovely little family or surfing with mates. We are very spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning beaches. West coast is only an hour drive. Some great camping spots on both coasts, especially north of Kerikeri

It Sucks When…

There are good waves over harvest or the beer fridge is empty.

Your Favourite Wine?

Can I say red and white? A very hard question. I don’t think I have tried it yet. The last memorable wine was a Penfolds Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. I thought it was a very good wine

Which Wine Region Excites You Most Right Now?

It would have to be Northland. Since working in Northland I have seen enormous potential for high quality wine production. The landscape is so variable. There are loads of nooks and crannies, different microclimates and soil structures in the area. A good site (coastal seems to do better) and a little more vineyard management proves it is possible to grow spectacular fruit up here. The last three vintages have been great, especially the 2015. Some of the fruit I have seen up here definitely rivals the best I have seen on all of my travels with wine.

Future Aspirations?

Not so sure. I would eventually like to have a piece of land up here in the north somewhere so I can grow a small parcel of grapes. Maybe only focus on one or two varieties, and try to do them consistently well.

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