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FT-Sep16 65 LOWBURN FERRY HOME BLOCK PINOT NOIR TOPS: Central Otago winegrowers Roger and Jean Gibson are not only elated that a wine from their Lowburn Ferry vineyard has ranked top in high profile UK magazine Decanter, but also that Central Otago has once again been highlighted as “the best Pinot-producing country outside of France.” Roger Gibson says “It’s fantastic for us to have this exposure for Lowburn Ferry and for Central Otago in one of our growing key markets, the UK. For a little vineyard I feel we are punching above our weight – we’ve only planted 3.5 ha of our 40 ha in the Lowburn Valley… it makes sense to think about planting more now to increase the production to meet growing demands.” The Lowburn wine was plucked from more than 170 in Decanter’s September issue by three prominent UK wine judges, after scoring 96 out of a possible 100. The award follows last year’s accolade for the previous vintage Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2013, which won top New Zealand wine in Cuisine magazine. DRINKING CHAMPAGNE THAT TASTES JUST LIKE CHERRY COLA might be the lyrics of a past generation, but Garage Project and Karma Cola have brought the old Kinks classic into 2016 with a mixed up, muddled up, shook up beer called Lola that will raise money for girls’ education in Sierra Leone. Garage Project co-founder Jos Ruffell says “we always strive to source the best ingredients for our brews, so we’re thrilled to collaborate with Karma Cola – a great like-minded company, who have shared their magical, ethical cola with us.” Brewed with citrus, spices, whole sour cherries and Karma Cola cola nuts, Lola’s got quite a tangy cherry flavour with a kick of cola at the end. The Karma Cola Foundation was established to develop sustainable economic independence for cola farmers and their families in Boma, and help them rebuild their lives after their ten-year war. “We support a lot of initiatives but every year we’ve increased the number of girls we put through school,” says Karma Cola Foundation’s Simon Coley. “It’s not easy getting an education in West Africa, especially if you’re a girl. If you have brothers, they’ll probably go to school instead of you. We call it Thirst Aid,” says Coley. Twenty cents from every can of Lola will go into the Karma Cola Foundation. “We’re into things that taste good and do good, and when we get to work with friends like Garage Project so they taste awesome and look good too, it doesn’t get much better,” says Coley. AN ITALIAN EXPERIENCE: It’s a long way from his parents’ Matamata dairy farm, but third-year double degree student at EIT Ben Richards is winging his way to Italy where he will visit wineries, vineyards and the Scuola di Viticoltura e di Enologica di Conegliano in the country’s northeast early next year…thanks to a Romeo Bragato exchange scholarship. The 21-year-old, who is studying wine science and viticulture in the Hawke’s Bay, will spend a few weeks of his month-long trip at Italy’s premier viticultural training institution, where Bragato – the New Zealand Government‘s viticulturist in the late19th century – was a star pupil. Now regarded as the so-called father of New Zealand viticulture, Bragato recognised the grape-growing potential of regions such as Hawke’s Bay. For Richards, it’s the perfect trip, after rejecting the “repetitive routine of milking cows” for winemaking and beer brewing. “I’m more interested in vines and soils than in the production of wine,” he says. “I’m pleased to be studying both disciplines, because it allows me the option of switching career direction in the future.” Studying chemistry at St Peter’s Cambridge, Richards is a fan of syrah and his favourite wines are the aromatic varieties – gewurztraminer and gruner veltliner. There will be no exchange student from Italy travelling to New Zealand this year as part of the scholarship, but a graduate from the Conegliano school, who has progressed to studying a degree in oenology at the University of Padua, has been selected to visit next year. The exchange programme, the brainchild of former New Zealand Grape Growers’ Association chairman Kevyn Moore, is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Taradale and EIT. ENTRIES ARE NOW OPEN FOR NEW ZEALAND BEER AWARDS This year’s edition of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards is expected to be the most keenly contested yet, with Guild chairman Jonathan Alve predicting huge amounts of innovation as brewers react to consumer preferences. Entries for the awards opened last week, will be judged on September 23 and winners announced on October 8. Now in its tenth year, the awards are the ultimate accolade for New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer industry. “We’re seeing a huge amount of innovation in the sector as brewers respond to consumer preferences, whether it’s for lower alcohol beer or the stronger tasting ales. That bodes well for another stellar year in New Zealand brewing excellence,” Alve says.

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