Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday drinks with Miles Dinneen from Hawke's Bay

He wishes he could sing, adores Bordeaux red wines and his literary wife and Miles Dinneen says he's at his happiest outdoors - any old hill or mountain will do. The Hawke's Bay winemaker commutes to Masterton to work at Matahiwi where he has worked his day job since late 2017. As he approaches his sixth vintage at the Wairarapa winery, Dinneen shares his thoughts about wine, life and how the cyclone has effected him.

How has Cyclone Gabrielle impacted your role in the Northern Wairarapa?

The cyclone did not really affect the vineyard areas of Wairarapa other than a good overhead  irrigation so we got off lightly this time, unlike so many friends and family in the Bay.

How often do you commute from the Bay to the Northern Wairarapa and is this still viable?

It is all East Coast so just down the road and not cut off. Most of the year, outside of harvest, I spend the weekends and holidays back in Hawke's Bay.

When were you bitten by the wine bug?

Back in 1996 I did a harvest at Corbans in Hawke's Bay out of curiosity and the smell of fermenting Muller Thurgau had me at hello. By the time we started picking Chardonnay I was a lifer.

How has the CO2 shortage impacted your winemaking at Matahiwi and how do you make such high quality sparkling wine at such a modest price?

Our sparkling programme is a relatively small but special part of our business. We grow some great fruit for the sparkling programme, ferment the base wines and keep reserve wines on lees to bring consistency and depth. The secondary ferment by the Charmat method and bottling is done by our friends at Wineworks Hawke's Bay, so we are all just experiencing delays while the CO2 issue shakes out.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Hanging out and having a laugh with people I love.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?


What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Viciousness is not a great character trait.

Which living person do you most admire?

Willie Nelson for always reinterpreting the form while being consistently great. Something to aspire to.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Periodically breaking down and spending too much on expensive wine or whisky.

When and where were you happiest?

Wandering around in nature. Any old hill or mountain will do.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I love singing but sound like a foghorn and can never remember lyrics so a talent injection there would be nice.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Making a contribution to my great family.

Where would you most like to live?

Hawke's Bay and New York. The best of both worlds.

What is your most treasured possession?

In the present context the shirt on my back.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My wife because she lives by her art. Gotta love writers as it is a damn hard way to make a crust.

What is your favourite wine style and wine region?

I love 'em all but can't go past a good Bordeaux red.