Monday, 25 January 2016 10:20

Young winemakers

Written by 
From left: Lauren Swift, Abby Gallagher and Abigail Maxwell. From left: Lauren Swift, Abby Gallagher and Abigail Maxwell.

2015 saw the first ever Young Winemaker of the Year competition held in New Zealand.

Three representatives, from Hawke's Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago battled it out at the Bragato conference. Coming in first was Hawke's Bay's Lauren Swift, second was Abby Maxwell from Marlborough and third was Abby Gallagher from Central Otago.

 

Lauren Swift, 26, winemaker at Ash Ridge Wines

How long have you worked in Hawke's Bay?

Three years full time.

What brought you here?

Study and a change of scenery.

Where have you travelled in wine to get here?

I have done two overseas vintages – one in Cote Rotie, Rhone, France V15 and the other in Sonoma, California V13. I also worked at Clos Henri in Marlborough before taking the leap and moving to Hawke's Bay to study the Bachelor of Oenology.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The range of work I get to be a part of. My main job is the winemaker but I also work on cellar door at least one day a week and get involved in the vineyard and the sales and marketing side too.

What do you enjoy most about Hawke's Bay?

Hawke's Bay is a beautiful place with a lot going for it! My free time here seems to consist of walking my dog and trying out different places to eat and drink.

When you're not making wine?

I am drinking it! Or eating good food.

It sucks when....

My dog finds something dead to roll in! She is always proud of her 'perfume'.

Your favourite wine?

Chardonnay, my partner tries to surprise me by bringing one home and 9 times out of 10 I have already had it!

Which wine region excites you most right now?

I have to say Hawke's Bay... as a whole they are re-branding the region and giving it focus and it just so happens to be home to two of my favourtites! Chard and Syrah. Plus I am excited to put into place some techniques I learned in France in the coming year.

Future aspirations?

◦ I have a lot of great plans... first one off the list is to start making my own wine.

◦ Continue to make award-winning wines for Ash Ridge

◦ And I aspire to get into consulting down the track.

 

Abby Gallagher, 24, cellerhand at Mt Difficulty, Central Otago

How long have you worked in Central Otago?

I moved down this Easter, so about six months.

What brought you here?

I've wanted to move here since a family holiday when I was about 14. So this was the year and I've made it happen.

Where have you travelled in wine to get here?

I started out in Marlborough where I spent a few years working and studying before heading to France, and then here to Central.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the fast pace and excitement of harvest.

What do you enjoy most about Central Otago?

I love the scenery the most. It's always breathtaking going around all the vineyards each with their own amazing view.

When you're not making wine?

I tried to spend as much time over winter up the skifields, but now the snow's gone it's hiking and biking time!

Your favourite wine?

At the moment I'm really enjoying some of the Central Otago Chardonnays.

Which wine region excites you most right now?

I've recently come back from doing a harvest in Burgundy, I had so much fun learning about the area and tasting the wines.

Future aspirations?

One day I would like to have a small hobby vineyard, but until then moving up to a winemaking position.

 

Abigail Maxwell, 28, assistant winemaker and laboratory manager at Babich Wines, Marlborough

How long have you worked in Marlborough?

Two years.

What brought you to Marlborough?

The challenge of an inaugural vintage for a new winery, being based in the biggest wine producing region of New Zealand, and as I was coming home from my OE, marmite and mince and cheese pies!

Where have you travelled in wine to get here?

From South Auckland to Hawke's Bay to study, then Ireland for an adventure, America, Europe and finally Marlborough to start paying off the student loan and work up the winemaking ladder.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

No day is the same, with a variety of roles and the great team I work with it's easy to get out of bed in the morning. Babich Wines also provides encouragement and opportunities to learn and grow as a winemaker, with high expectations you're driven to exceed them.

What do you enjoy most about Marlborough?

The wine and grape growing community and spirit. After winning the Marlborough Young Winemaker, I had an unexpected visit from our neighbours Indevin who dropped off a congratulatory bottle of bubbles, by forklift! Just one example of many where Marlborough celebrates and works together, and I love being a part of it. Also Burleigh pies, legendary.

When you're not making wine?

I'm thinking about my next glass of wine, playing drums, rushing off to dance class or icing a cake.

It sucks when....

You can't reach the top shelf gems at the liquor shop.

Your favourite wine?

Coming into Christmas, it's bubbles season! Currently enjoying Nautilus Marlborough Cuvee NV, delicious with salt and pepper squid.

Which wine region excites you most right now?

Kamptal, Austria. Inspirational Grüner Veltliner.

Future aspirations?

Win big with Lotto and try for Master of Wine.

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