Jen Parr of Valli Vineyards has been named New Zealand Winemaker of the year for 2020 by Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine.
The award was announced at the Grand Hotel in Auckland on Monday 20 January by Gourmet Traveller Wine editor Judy Sarriss.
Winemakers cannot enter the awards themselves, nor can they be nominated and Sarriss says that Parr is the only person in the history of the awards to be nominated two years in a row.
“Her experience and attention to detail serve her well when creating wines of great quality and sense of place.”
Parr was born in Oregon and now lives in Central Otago where she has been making wine for over a decade, firstly at Olssen’s (now Terra Sancta) in Bannockburn where she became head winemaker in 2009. She then joined Valli in 2015 and has since also consulted to several other wineries, such as Wild Earth, Kinross, Stewart Town Vineyard, and Black Quail.
“While the Winemaker is the Year Awards is focused on individuals, none of us got here alone. We all have countless people who have helped us get where we are today,” says Parr, who has twice been chairperson for the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration and was one of nine nentors nationally in the Women in Wine’s Pilot Mentor Programme in 2018.
Valli Vineyards founder and fellow winemaker Grant Taylor describes Jen Parr as the most thoughtful winemaker he knows.
“We are a small team of three winemakers who click. I don’t think the Rolling Stones in their heyday worked together as well as we do. We share everything but perhaps nothing as much as our pride in each others’ successes”
- The finalists for the Winemaker of the Year competition are chosen by a judging panel chaired by Bob Campbell MW, alongside industry stalwarts Cameron Douglas MS and Liz Wheadon.