HAWKE’S BAY SUCCESS www.foodtechnology.co.nz 53 ARTISAN WINEMAKERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT Experimental and natural artisan winemakers from around the country are being offered a helping hand to get their wares in front of the winedrinking public, thanks in large part to a grape-loving trio leading the democratisation of independently-produced wine. Jules and Lauren van Costello and Asher Boote own retail store Cult Wine in Wellington, and are making it their business to get artisan winegrowers’ products to more people in New Zealand. There are around 30 natural wine makers in New Zealand, they say, and a handful of independent producers making wines in lots as small as 100ml bottles. But while the industry is small compared with the craft beer scene, it is growing rapidly. “Wine is coming back in a big way,” Jules van Costello says. “New Zealand has a small but hugely passionate community of independent growers creating exciting new tastes, and wine drinkers are really starting to take notice.” The scarcity of independently produced wines appeals to many people, as does the fact that a lot of smaller growers are making wine naturally, with less intervention such as fining, filtration or added preservatives. “One of the other things about a lot of natural and lo-fi wines is that they are less polished, but also more vibrant and full of texture and flavour,” van Costello says. “New Zealand pétillant-naturels are some of the most exciting wines we have. They are so crazily different to traditional sparkling wine – so textured, and packed with bright fruit. Some of our orange wines are totally mind- blowing. Growers are also blending varieties, and using red and white grapes together. Some of these wines are almost totally unclassifiable.” Independently produced wines have been available in some high-end restaurants for a while, but they have been almost impossible to find or buy in stores. “The idea of Cult Wine is to make these wines a little more accessible,” van Costello says. “We wanted to democratise wine for the growers and the buyers.” Around 200 independently produced wines are offered to customers, and the company holds regular tasting events for people who want to experience them first hand. The response from consumers has been “hugely positive”, and sales through Cult Wine’s online store have been strong. Van Costello isn’t planning on a big birthday bash to celebrate Cult Wine’s first birthday, but acknowledges there is plenty to party about. The business got off to a flying start in September last year with the help of a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign, before overcoming a hurdle in November 2016 when a large amount of stock was lost in the Kaikoura earthquake. “It’s been a big year, but we’ve pulled through,” he says. “There’s no one like us in the country, and people come to us because they want something different.” www.cultwine.co.nz A Chinese university located smackdab in the middle of that country’s premier wine-growing region has selected EIT to teach wine science to its students both in China and Hawke’s Bay. Qi Lu University of Technology in Shandong province has forged a formal partnership with EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science, which is now adopting a teaching role through its Faculty of Bio-Technology. The two institutions have worked together for four years, and chief executive Chris Collins says the partnership – covering wine education programme delivery into China, knowledge transfer and shared research projects and outcomes – is significant in underscoring not only Hawke’s Bay’s reputation as a premium wine producing region, but as a leader of higher education in wine science and viticulture. The agreement also provides an option for senior Chinese viticulture and wine science students to complete part of their degree – and perhaps later, postgraduate qualifications – at EIT, bringing more international students into the region. This semester three EIT lecturers are to teach wine science and viticulture in a block style mode at Qi Lu University, which boasts 25,000 students. restructuring and turnaround of the company seeing increased distribution and sales across domestic and export markets, along with the completion of a state-of-the-art winery on Jackson’s Road in Marlborough that specialises in Pinot Noir. Pask has a 1000-tonne winery on Omahu Road and 60ha of vineyards in Jules (left) and Lauren van Costello with Asher Boote (right) the renowned Gimblett Gravels. John Benton will chair both companies, with Chris Pask retaining his involvement with Pask Winery as the founding director on the Pask Winery board. Jeff Clarke – who has been head winemaker at both Pernod Ricard and Ara Wines – has been appointed the group’s chief winemaker.
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