Fried chicken, hip hop and other inspirations from Matt Stafford

Matt Stafford is the chief winemaker at Craggy Range Vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and is popping down to New Zealand’s so-called windy city for a pop up dinner on Monday night 20 August at Egmont Street Eatery…


Matt makes five of New Zealand’s priciest wines – the Craggy Range Prestige Collection – so I asked him about what inspires him in wine and in life.


What wine, person or event got you hooked on winemaking?

Whilst finishing off my studies in soil science my lecturer Dr Peter Almond suggested I look at the concept of terroir within New Zealand Wine.  One of the first people I then corresponded was Steve Smith MW (founding director of Craggy Range) and it was immediate – I could see the passion one can have for a piece of land and the quest that should be taken to capture its unique qualities within a bottle of wine.


What’s your favourite part of each day?

Opening bottles or tasting barrels to see how wines evolve and what stories emerge.


What’s your pet wine peeve?

People treasuring wines too much.  There are so many interesting bottles tucked away by people starting out on their wine journeys that just need drinking.


What’s your top piece of advice to all wine lovers?

Quality over quantity.


How do you like to unwind after vintage each year?

Running around Hawke’s Bay and spending time watching and playing sport with the family.


Your favourite drink is…



Your favourite food and music with your fave drink is…

Fried chicken and mid-90s hip hop.


What’s your most memorable wine experience ever and where was it?

An afternoon spent tasting with Jacques Lardiere at Louis Jadot last year is still making my head spin –  40+ years of experience in trying to explore the same vineyards and capture their beauty and reason for being.


If you could make wine anywhere in the world, what would it be?

It would be a dream to work with fruit from the Musigny vineyard in Burgundy.


If you had to choose your last ever glass of wine, what would it be?

Hopefully something a grandchild has crafted.


Craggy Range pops up restaurant has a special VIP night on Monday 20 August for a tasting of the 2016 Prestige Collection wines followed by a four course dinner by Terroir restaurant chef Casey McDonald.

Book here: or here:

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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