Weekly wine talk is published every Friday and the occasional Monday
She feels a strong affinity with the ocean, loves drinking Gamay and doesn’t like thinking about regrets because, says Nat Christensen, “We all have a path to go down and I think we are supposed to go through ups and downs on it.”
She is the chief winemaker for Yealands, one of the largest wineries in Marlborough. She began there in 2014 after a stint working at Rias Baixas in Galicia, north east Spain, a role she had for 18 months, working for Bodega La Caña where she made Albarino. She also worked a vintage in Malaga at a winery owned by the same company.
As could be expected, Nat says “North east Spain felt quite homely and almost hard to believe I was there because the climate felt so similar to New Zealand. I think Albarino is an awesome wine and it does really well here because our climate is so similar to that of its native homeland.”
Meet Nat Christensen, chief winemaker of Yealands
This is the 15th interview on this website based on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 – find out more here.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being able to keep morale up in the face of difficulties, not just for myself but for the team around me.
What is your current state of mind?
A little jumbled. It’s quite unsettling not being able to make firm plans for the future due to Covid. I like to have things planned out and love travelling. That was a big part of my role. On the flip side, Covid has made me really appreciate home and community so I feel really grateful that I’m in New Zealand.
What is your favourite part of winemaking?
I love vintage and the crazy, busy, vibey time of it but I also love the aspect of getting to meet a lot of interesting people in the travel of wine. It’s often in a nice setting in a lovely location and the people are smart and interesting.
Do you have a most treasured wine?
I go through waves. I have a lot of fond memories drinking a wine I made in Galicia. At the moment my variety of choice is Gamay (and Beaujolais); it’s so fun and always brings a smile.
Where is your favourite wine region?
Burgundy was awesome and magical but my favourite experience was in Oregon. I loved the culture and the farm to fork mentality.
When and where are you at your happiest?
In vintage. My mind and my hands are so occupied that all the things that normally slip in mind to worry and preoccupy me just don’t have time to. Vintage is about being in the moment. The ferments are alive, there are lots of logistical things happening and the focus is on positive things and doing stuff.
What do you most dislike in wine?
Snobbery and exclusivity that sometimes comes with it.
What is your greatest fear?
Self doubt and holding back. I think I’m pretty good at taking opportunities but it is a fear.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I seem to be a sucker for going with the moment. I bought an old BMW from a friend’s dad last year and don’t really drive it much but when I do, it brings me so much joy. The same thing happened with a visiting artist who I was inspired by and bought some of her work.
What is your greatest regret?
I feel that we all have a path and are supposed to go through some ups and downs so there’s nothing I regret strongly. Any time that I feel I’ve made a bad decision it has worked out for the best in the future.
I don’t like thinking about regrets.
What talent would you most like to have?
It would be quite amazing to be a trapeze artist.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The feeling of isolation and aloneness, especially when surrounded by people.
What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?
What do you most value in your friends?
Kindness and honesty.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your favourite meal?
I love Thai food; fresh and vibrant.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?
I don’t think I’d come back as a human. I’ve always had a strong affinity with the ocean. I feel a connection and wonder if I came from there in a past life so perhaps I’d end up back there in some form…