Joelle Thomson Writer

Author, journalist, speaker

Month: July 2018 (page 2 of 3)

Women in wine mentors appointed

Women now make up approximately 50 per cent of the workforce in New Zealand wine production but significantly less at the board level of the industry.

To address this lack of balance, Sarah Szegota spear headed the formation of Women in Wine NZ in 2016, which has now launched another positive for the industry – the new Women in Wine Pilot Mentoring Programme launched on 11 July this year.

“Initially it will give one woman from each of the country’s nine wine regions a chance to be paired in a mentoring relationship with an experienced female mentor from the industry and we hope it will grow to include more women and a wider range of mentors going forward,” says Szegota, who is the global communications and PR manager for Villa Maria Wines.

This role follows on from her work in communications at New Zealand Winegrowers where she planted the seeds that have grown to give women more significant inclusion at board level.

“When I returned to work after having my daughter in 2016, my colleague and I read Meininger’s Wine Business International’s survey on the findings of the experience of women in the wine industry around the world.

“The results weren’t overly positive and we knew how many capable and astute women there are working in the New Zealand wine industry, and realised that none of them had put themselves forward as nominees in the NZ Winegrowers board elections.”

That same year, following an email asking for greater involvement from small wine regions, a more diverse cultural mix of people and more gender balance, NZ Winegrowers appointed two women to their board. They are Katherine Jacobs of Big Sky Wines on Te Muna Road in Martinborough and Rachel Taulelei, CEO of Kono Beverages and a former US trade commissioner.

Szegota loves working in wine because of the passion of those in the industry and while she acknowledges that gender imbalance is less pronounced in New Zealand than in many traditional winemaking countries, she is keen to see more balance going forward.

“Initiatives such as Women in Wine give our peers the access to advice, perspective, networking, long-lasting relationships, confidence, and encouragement. Everything required to help tip the balance of women putting their hands up to take the big jobs and the directorships.
“This is something I would love to see balanced out more.”

NZ’s first organic wine week

Organic winemakers are upping the ante in New Zealand this September with the first Organic Wine Week from 17 to 23 September.

Event organisers aim to highlight the 10% of wine producers in New Zealand who are now certified organic in production from the vineyard to the winery.

Certification is the only guarantee of any organic product. The number of organically certified winemakers is growing fast, due to local and global demand for more transparency in production methods and the healthy aspects of consumable products.

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand is an incorporated society with 180 members.

Organic Wine Week event sneak peak

New Zealand restaurants will host events with organic winemakers including…

  • The Grove (Auckland), Shepherd (Wellington), Bistronomy (Hawke’s Bay), Arbour (Blenheim), Gatherings at Black Estate vineyard (Canterbury) and Sherwood (Queenstown).
  • New Zealand retailers will host public organic wine tastings, including Commonsense Organics in Wellington and Glengarry in Auckland.
  • European events include a masterclass with organic winemakers at New Zealand Winegrowers HQ in London; a consumer tasting at the New Zealand Cellar in London, a New Zealand organic wine list focus at key restaurants in London and an organic showcase at New Zealand Winegrowers tasting events in Warsaw and Hamburg.

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand will launch a calendar of events in August on the Organic Winegrowers website at

Cloudy Bay’s new shed in Central

Cloudy Bay’s The Shed is the newest tasting room in Central Otago


It looks anything but a traditional New Zealand rural shed and the activities on offer are also rather different.

Cloudy Bay’s new cellar door offers everything from informal tastings and light snacks to private group tastings, vineyard tours on foot and in the air.

The well known Marlborough based winery has been making wine from Central Otago grapes since 2010 and purchased the Northburn Station vineyard in 2012. Its flagship Pinot Noir is Te Wahi, which is made from grapes grown both there and on the biodynamic Calvert Vineyard in Bannockburn.

All of Cloudy Bay’s wines will be available for tasting at The Shed, says estate director Yang Shen. The winery is now owned by the LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton group.

The Shed is open Tuesday to Saturday year round and seven days during summer months at 45 Northburn Station Road, Cromwell, Otago.

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