Friday wine with Warren Gibson

He loves chicken kiev, white truffles and Barolo but, perhaps more tellingly, Warren Gibson loathes a glass being not only half empty but not filled at all, both literally and metaphorically. “Depression and related disorders can be working away very secretively. We need to look out for one another,” says the Hawke’s Bay winemaker and consultant to Trinity Hill and a range of other wineries around the country.

This Friday’s wine talk is with winemaker Warren Gibson, who is married to an understanding partner and fellow winemaker, Lorraine Leheny. The couple founded Bilancia Wines as their own labour of love and successful commercial wine brand.

This is the 14th 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?

I’ve never really thought about it. Possibly being somewhat responsible in helping bring up two great kids. I expect my partner Lorraine deserves more credit. The wine industry is not always great for family time so you need a very understanding partner.

What is your current state of mind?

Contemplative. At 55 years old, I have achieved a lot of things I have wanted to do in life. Now it is a matter of setting goals and targets for the end game.

What is your favourite part of being involved in winemaking?

From the production side, it’s vintage. I tend to be a slow starter and reluctant finisher. At the other end of production, it’s sharing your efforts with others. The opportunity to travel around the world with the job has been a privilege.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

Not really. I try not to put wine up on such a pedestal. I am looking after an old bottle of Grange for my sister and brother in law who live in Australia so I’m being particularly careful not to break or drink that one.

Where is your favourite wine region?

Piedmont. The Barolo district in particular.

When and where are you at your happiest?

Lazy Sundays.

What do you most dislike in wine?


What is your greatest fear?

Losing my family and friends, particularly when too young.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Nothing too extravagant. Lorraine and I probably spend what others might think is a disproportionate amount on eating out and good food and wine. I am not sure what we are all saving ourselves for…

What is your greatest regret?

Not been given enough time to spend with my mother who passed away when I was still quite young.

What talent would you most like to have?

Sporting brilliance.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Having your glass not just half empty but not filled at all… both literally and metaphorically. Depression and related disorders can be working away very secretively. We need to look out for one another.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

You might be best to ask others on this one…

What do you most value in your friends?

Genuine friendship means we are there for each other for both the good and the bad.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“That’s going straight to the poolroom” and other such gems from “The Castle”. And other general dad jokes.

What is your favourite meal?

My kids would undoubtedly say prepackaged chicken kiev from the freezer, heated up and consumed when home alone. They have even given me a chicken kiev t-shirt in the font of Calvin Klein to help celebrate this. In reality, it would be some version of a white truffle sprinkled risotto or similar in a hillside restaurant in Barolo.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

Give me some time on this one…

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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