Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday wine with Matt Connell in Central Otago

Matt Connell doesn't believe in a life after this one and aims to live by a mantra of making the most of each day - "since this is the one life I've got". He wishes he could play the guitar and that he had met his wife earlier in his life but on the eve of vintage 2022 in the world's southernmost wine region, he is full of anticipation to what this year will bring in the wines he makes, which he will begin selling at the Aurum winery and cellar door, which he has leased. 

Connell is a winemaker and consultant in Central Otago, a region in which he produces his own wines as well as working for other brands.

Meet Matt... 

The weekly wine interview on this website is inspired by the Proust questionnaire.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My two kids Emma and Noah.

What is your current state of mind?

Lots of anticipation and some trepidation. I run my own brand and make wines for a range of contract clients. We are just about to kick off vintage 2022, which is always exciting and we have just leased Aurum Wines existing winery and tasting room site, but obviously covid is hitting its current straps with all the unknowns that has to offer.

What is your favourite part of winemaking?

Seeing people enjoying my wines with friends and family.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

Sue Hodder from Wynns Coonawarra Estate was kind enough to give me some beautiful aged wines when I worked there in 2002. The 1960 Cabernet was an absolutely fantastic wine that will stay in my mind forever. Other than that any wine that friends are kind enough to share. To me, wine should be about discovery, not how old it is or how much it costs. 

Where is your favourite wine region?

Central Otago is my home and region of choice very closely followed by the Willamette Valley in Oregon where I learnt the craft of Pinot Noir winemaking and where my daughter Emma was Born.

When and where are you at your happiest?

In the great outdoors with friends, hunting or fishing. I have a Parks and Recreation Management degree as well as Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology and have always found peace in the outdoors.

What do you most dislike in wine?

Wine snobbery. Like I said earlier wine to me is about sharing an experience with friends and family regardless of price, type or the age of a wine.

What is your greatest regret?

Not meeting my wife Beth earlier in my life.

What talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to play guitar. I have always loved music.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Someone thinking they are better than someone else.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

I can be quite black and white at times.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their support and honesty

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

 “Off like a bride's nightie.”

What is your favourite meal?

Love anything freshly caught and gathered.

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

I don’t think that’s going to happen so I make the most of who I am and the opportunity in front of me every day.