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News | Press Releases

Waipara Hills winemaker hands over the reins of patience and passion

 

It’s an end of an era for Waipara Hills winemaker Simon McGeorge, as he hands over the reins and delves into his own winemaking ventures.

Simon has pursued a successful tenure as winemaker at Waipara Hills since 2006, and loved every minute of it.
 
Working amongst the land of North Canterbury’s Waipara Valley, he has thrived in his craft, drawing on his patience and passion to produce award winning wines that are rich, textural and bursting with flavour.
 
Simon said no matter what challenges the season delivers, each year is an improvement on the last, and that is thanks to the great people from many walks of life that he’s had the privilege to work with. 
 
“I am grateful for the long list of fellow wine industry personnel who have helped me to fuel my passion for winemaking and develop my skills. All these people have helped shape me into the winemaker that I am today.”
 
Taking over the reins of passion and patience for the craft of winemaking is Andrew Brown, well renowned for his expertise with aromatics, particularly with Riesling, of which he enjoys the stylistic diversity. 


Andrew Brown, Waipara Hills Winemaker

 
Making the switch from Assistant Winemaker at Framingham Wines in Marlborough where he has been since 2009, Andrew is looking forward to getting his hands amongst the soils and vines of Waipara Hills, where he has a long term fascination and respect for the wine produced in the Valley.
 
“I’ve always been a fan of the Waipara Valley so am really thrilled to be taking up the role as Waipara Hills winemaker. I am looking forward to working with the fruit, championing the region and becoming part of the team.”
 
Andrew’s love of the land started from a young age; his first taste of harvest was cropping the swedes on his family farm in Waitahuna, South Otago, at the tender age of six.
 
After high school he completed a Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management degree at Lincoln University, and promised himself he would return to complete the Post Graduate Diploma of Viticulture and Oenology at a later date. He did just that, dipping back into the study books in 2004 after four years of travel.
 
On the winemaking front, Andrew has worked in Alsace, Oregon and Central Otago and Marlborough.
 
Even with 10 harvests under his belt, and one just around the corner, he still thrives on the thrills and challenges they deliver.
 
“Trialling winemaking techniques and learning from these is what I really look forward to. As well as working with new vineyards and ferments….. as long as they behave themselves!”

Waipara Hills 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Achieves Cuisine Best Buy
The 2016 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has had a great start, awarded Best Buy in the recent Cuisine tasting, in addition to its Four Star rating.
 
This year’s Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc boasts bright lifted aromatics, the classic hallmark features of the Awatere Valley, providing a vibrant punch.
 
Waipara Hills winemaker Simon McGeorge says the characters of crisp green apple and mineral acidity are derived from the geography of this sub region, which sits at a slightly higher elevation and is traditionally cooler, drier and windier.
 
He added this Sauvignon Blanc has a line of richness which perfectly cuts through the acidity, thanks to the profile and soils of the Awatere Valley, where 70% of the grapes come from.
 
“The deep gravels and silty loam top soils attributed to the great weight and interest in this Sauvignon Blanc,” said Simon.
 
The warm and stable conditions, rather than very hot days, leading up to the 2016 harvest meant even ripeness, allowing all the fruit flavours to hit their potential.
 
“The vibrant melon, snow pea and wet river stone characters create a wonderful mouthfeel bursting with mid palate richness, before a bright refreshing finish of mineral acidity, with a touch of tropical fruit,” said Simon.
 
This Sauvignon Blanc is best served chilled, and is a delicious match with fresh flavours such as a summer salad filled with garden greens and slices of orange and fennel.
 
It may be enjoyed young and fresh, but will develop more flavour and complexity with age.
 
Cuisine is synonymous with its highly respected, independent wine tastings, and the results over the years have formed an invaluable buying guide, allowing readers to trust the familiar Recommended by Cuisine sticker.
Waipara Hills wins a Gold Medal at New World Wine Awards
Gold Award Waipara Hills Pinot Noir
Waipara Hills is thrilled to announce its 2015 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir received a Gold medal and a Top 50 ranking at the 2016 New World Wine Awards, one of the largest and most influential wine shows in New Zealand with over 1,300 entries this year.
 
Simon McGeorge, Waipara Hills winemaker, was delighted with this result.
 
He said, despite a frosty start, the 2015 season had a bright and warm summer, allowing for even fruit ripeness and full flavours.
 
“With its dark cherry and red currant fruit characters, enticing earthiness and a hint of French oak, this versatile wine can be enjoyed for many occasions,” said Simon.
 
The judges at the Awards shared Simon’s descriptors, noting its ripe berry fruit and black cherry aromas, introducing a palate of plush fruit, well supported by oak.
 
The New World Wine Awards are judged by a panel of 13 independent expert wine judges that blind taste and judge each wine using the same internationally recognised 20-point scale as other wine competitions worldwide.
 
This means that wines are held to the same standard as at any other wine show. The only difference is that all wines entered must retail for $25 or less per bottle and at least 5,000 bottles must be available for sale.
 
“These Awards provide a unique focus on wines that are affordable and widely available, credited with a judging panel that is made up of New Zealand’s most experienced and well regarded wine experts,” said Simon.
 
The Gold medal winning 2015 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir will be available in New World stores from 10 October 2016. 
Award Winning Start for Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2016
Gold Award Waipara Hills Pinot Gris
Our 2016 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris has had a great start to the summer season, receiving a Gold medal and Champion Pinot Gris Trophy at the New Zealand International Wine Show.
 
With more than 2,050 entries, the New Zealand International Wine Show, which took place in September, is one of the largest wine competitions in New Zealand.
 
Waipara Hills winemaker Simon McGeorge was thrilled with the news.
 
“It’s fantastic to receive the Champion Trophy and Gold Award so early into the vintage release for the 2016 Waipara Hills Pinot Gris. We’ve got some of our best wines ever to bring out in the coming year and I can’t wait to see how they do in the awards circuit,” he said.  
 
In the heart of the Waipara Valley, these Pinot Gris vines sit upon deep, free draining Glasnevin soils. This creates an aromatic wine where flavours of apple, pear and nougat flow through the palate, finishing with a touch of ginger and crisp acidity.
 
“This season’s fruit has produced a stunning Pinot Gris that is rich and complex,” said Simon, who remembers fondly the warm, dry season that allowed the aromatic varieties to slowly develop their flavours resulting in spectacular wines.
 
Ready to drink now and into the summer months, this Pinot Gris will continue to build weight and complexity with age. Visit our Waipara Hills cellar door to try this award-winning Pinot Gris. Set amongst vineyards in the picturesque Waipara Valley, just 45 minutes north of Christchurch, you’ll discover an operating winery, cellar door and bistro style café specialising in fresh, seasonal dishes.

 
2014 Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Noir Awarded 5 Stars by Cuisine
2014 Equinox Pinot Noir 5 Stars
The 2014 Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Noir has been awarded 5 Stars in Cuisine Magazine’s recent NZ Pinot Noir tasting.
 
Waipara Hills winemaker, Simon McGeorge said he and his team is very excited to hear that the 2014 Equinox Pinot Noir was ranked ninth out of 172 entries, and was also labelled a ‘Best Buy.’
 
“This is always a sought after result. I know that the level of competition is getting higher and higher each year, which makes it an even sweeter accomplishment,” he said.
 
He added that the warm and stable summer helped to produce great flavours, colour and structure. The autumn that followed was a lot more erratic, but with the “bones of the wine there already,” allowing for a slightly earlier than normal pick, it worked to preserve the bright fruit flavours.
 
“I love the complete yet quite elegant structure of the 2014 Equinox Pinot Noir, which along with that lovely dark fruit makes for quite the age worthy wine. I look forward to following this wine in the years to come as it fully develops,” said Simon.
 
With autumn now upon us, and the evenings getting cooler, this Pinot Noir is perfect for a cosy dinner party with friends. It is a delicious match with seared duck on a bed of roasted mushrooms.
 
“You expect balance from a wine called Equinox, and that is exactly what you get here. This is a poised, sinewy style with a floral nose, sweet berryfruit and sandalwood notes and excellent tension. It grows in personality the longer it’s in the glass,” said Cuisine’s senior wine show judge John Saker.
 
Cuisine is synonymous with its highly respected, independent wine tastings, and the results over the years have formed an invaluable buying guide, allowing readers to trust the familiar Recommended by Cuisine sticker.
 
This Cuisine recommended 2014 Waipara Hills Equinox Pinot Noir is available from all good fine wine retailers. RRP $34.90
Musical Milestone for Waipara Hills
UB40 Red Red Wine Tour
The summer drizzle was no deterrent for success of Waipara Hills’ summer concerts, with the team at Waipara Hills treating crowds to yet another fabulous concert season.
 
Over the space of one month, from December 19 to January 16, nearly 13,500 music lovers flocked through the gates at Waipara Hills winery, to enjoy some iconic and diverse headline acts including Sol3 Mio, Fat Freddy’s Drop, and sell-out UB40 Red Red Wine Tour, with the original band members Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue. 
 
Enjoying great kiwi music outdoors is an integral part of the summer experience for many, while an international act like UB40 is always warmly welcomed; the last international act was in December 2010, featuring Blondie and The Pretenders.
 
Cellar Door and Café Manager Jenny Anderson was particularly thrilled with the UB40 event on January 16 with 7,700 tickets sold, and was the first international act to grace the stage at Waipara Hills since the Christchurch earthquake nearly five years ago.
 
“Bringing back an international act to the venue to a sell-out crowd is a great success and provides an outdoor atmosphere amongst the vines which is completely different from being in an event centre,” she said.
 
The UB40 VIP area hosted a number of growers and guests of our New Zealand distributor Hancocks, who all thoroughly enjoyed splendid food, wine, beer and music.
 
Waipara Hills is proud of its North Canterbury heritage; championing the land, its wine, and hospitality. 
 
This is perfectly illustrated with the reputation these concerts hold with both its artists taking part and its crowds, who are always well looked after by the Waipara Hills team, who provide award winning wines paired up with delicious food.
 
Jenny strives for reputable enjoyable well organised concerts, which consequently create interest and awareness of the Waipara Valley region, and of Waipara Hills being the leading concert venue of its kind in North Canterbury and a top choice for a cellar door experience in the region.
 
“Our summer concerts make for a wonderful atmosphere watching large crowds of all ages just simply enjoying life, as they should,” said Jenny.
   
An encore from UB40 thrilled the crowd, as the sound of Red Red Wine filled the picturesque setting one final time. 

     
  Photos by Bradley Garner
 
Award Winning 2015 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
The rule book was thrown away when it came to creating the 2015 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
 
According to Winemaker Simon McGeorge, this year was one for exploring new places and corners of Marlborough, maximising the exceptional promise and potential a range of alternative vineyard blocks showed.
 
The growing season was a cooler one, but not wet, resulting in differentiation between the sub-regions, hence a departure from their classic style of tropical notes from upper Wairau and elegant and ripe greens from Awatere valley.
 
Simon said “It has already developed this nice aromatic lift and power. It’s vibrant and exuberant, combined with a nice mid palate richness and a long lingering finish. The wine is looking awesome right now; I think it’s looking really cool.”
 
“This blend is very much more than a sum of its parts. Although still keeping true to the Waipara Hills winemaking style, we threw away the rule book this year, and included some exciting new vineyard parcels,” he said.
 
Despite being relatively new in the bottle, this year’s Sauvignon Blanc has shown huge promise, and received a great response from consumers.
 
The 2015 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been placed 9th in Cuisine Magazine’s recent NZ Sauvignon Blanc tasting, and awarded five stars.
2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling wins two Gold Awards
2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling
The 2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling has been awarded Gold at The New Zealand International Wine Show and the New World Wine Awards.
 
As the country’s largest wine competition, achieving Gold at The New Zealand International Wine Show is testament to the superb quality of the Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling. The New World Wine Awards is also an achievement to be toasted; with many gold medal wines expected to sell out in a week.
 
Simon McGeorge, Waipara Hills Winemaker says “2014 kept us on our toes from the start, yet the long cool season combined with the experienced hands in the vineyard produced some of the most aromatic wines I’ve had the pleasure to make. We’re very proud to receive this recognition and once again, Waipara shows its class!”
 
“These recent Gold Awards recognise the quality of the various vineyard blocks where our Riesling is grown in the Waipara Valley and the effort that has gone into realising this fruit from our vineyard team. It is generous in flavour, yet a crisp and light wine with an elegant and persistent finish. A chilled glass is a perfect match with hard cheese like Manchego, or a fresh salad with parmesan and roasted walnuts.” Said Simon.
 
This fresh tasting Riesling also achieved silver at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Royal Easter Show Wine Awards and the Spiegelau International Wine Competition. Waipara Hills is developing a fine reputation for crafting award winning wines. The range is an elegant expression of all that is true to the South Island of New Zealand.
 
New World Wine Awards:
2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Riesling – Gold
2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Pinot Gris – Silver
2014 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – Silver
Waipara Hills Official Wine Supplier to The Food Show
Waipara Hills Official Wine Supplier to The Food Show
Waipara Hills is delighted to announce it will be the national Wine Sponsor at The Food Show 2015. The Waipara Hills wines will be matched to delicious dishes, whipped up by celebrity chefs in the Whirlpool Cooking Theatre across three New Zealand shows.
 
The celebrity chef line-up begins at the Christchurch Food Show on the 1-3rd May, with; Chelsea Winter, Ray McVinnie, Sachie Nomura, Peta Mathias, Annabelle White, Jonny Schwass and Masterchef winners; Karena and Kasey Bird.
 
Waipara Hills Winemaker, Simon McGeorge, is looking forward to sharing the stage with the iconic chefs, educating a packed audience of 200 people on the best ways to match wine with food and the key tools to do this successfully, when entertaining at home.
 
“I am very much looking forward to matching the Waipara Hills wines with outstanding food, cooked by some of New Zealand’s top chefs. Our range of wines is diverse, which allows us to get creative with our wine and food matches”, Simon said.
 
Waipara Hills has been the official Wine Supplier of the Christchurch Food Show since 2012. This year it has taken the sponsorship nationwide and will be providing expert food and wine matches at the Wellington and Auckland Food Show events too.
 
“We are pleased Waipara Hills has aligned nationally with The Food Show and will be attending all three shows in 2015. We look forward to showcasing our classic wine varieties in these not-to-be-missed wine and food matched master classes”, said MJ Loza, General Manager, Accolade Wines NZ.
CEO of North Point Events, Dona White, believes Waipara Hills is a great fit with the Food Show. "We’re thrilled to have Waipara Hills on board as our national wine sponsor, building on what has been a happy three-year involvement. The quality and varieties of the Waipara Hills portfolio of wines fits perfectly with the key values of The Food Show and visitor profile; people who love the best of eating, drinking, cooking and entertaining,” Dona said.
The Food Show is the only of its kind in New Zealand with over 100 exhibitors; attendees can expect to be in wine and foodie heaven!
 
THE DATES:

1-3 May, Horncastle Arena, Christchurch.
30th July – 2nd August, ASB Showgrounds, Auckland.
4-6 September, Westpac Stadium, Wellington.
 
Tickets are available at www.foodshow.co.nz
 
- Ends -
 
 
For further information please contact:
 
Hannah Burns, Accolade Wines NZ Ltd
Phone: (03) 520 6222
Mobile: 027 3325050
Email: hannah.burns@accolade-wines.co.nz
 
For distributor information please contact:
 
Andrew Antunovich, Hancocks Wines and Spirits
Mobile: 021 422 613
Email: andrewa@hancocks.co.nz
Fanatical about Riesling
Cuisine Magazine names Waipara Hills Riesling #1
Cuisine has released results from their Riesling tasting and the two Accolade New Zealand wine brands; Mud House and Waipara Hills, have received outstanding recognition.

The 2014 Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling placed first in the tasting with five stars and also a best buy award which recognises great value for money.

The 2014 Mud House Riesling, also hailing from the Waipara Valley, was placed eighth in the New Zealand line up, receiving 4.5 stars and a best buy award.

On the eve of this fantastic result, Accolade NZ Group Winemaker, Ben Glover, was in Melbourne in what he coins a ‘total immersion of Riesling’. He is currently attending 'Riesling Down Under', a three-yearly event, dedicated solely to arguably the noblest of grapes - Riesling.

“What an event to be part of, lining up with some of the most iconic Riesling producers from around the world; Egon Muller, Ernie Loosen, and Willi Brundlmayer to name a few”, Ben said.

“This Cuisine result, along with winning the Trophy at the International Riesling Challenge with our 2013 Mud House Estate The Mound Vineyard Waipara Valley Riesling, has escalated our reputation as a solid Riesling producer and I think we are starting to become recognised as serious Riesling fanatics”, Ben said.

The Mud House and Waipara Hills Rieslings both hail from company vineyards in the Waipara Valley.  Jean-Luc Dufour, Accolade’s Waipara Vineyard Manager comments; “When I started working at this vineyard over 20 years ago, I didn’t like Riesling. Now I think it’s fantastic! The fruit has this pungent scent that makes you want to eat it, it’s like nothing else out there,” he said.

Accolade’s New Zealand brands have won a total of three trophies and received fifteen gold medals, for Riesling hailing from the Waipara Valley.

February has been highlighted as the Month of Riesling, a flow on from the hugely successful Summer of Riesling events. Accoalde New Zealand has several Cellar Door inititives along with on-trade promotions for the month of February with their Waipara Hills Riesling.

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