Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday drinks with Beth Forrest

Meet Beth Forrest. General manager, chief winemaker and self professed daddy's girl. She is all these things and also the quiet instigator of New Zealand's most successful alternative grape variety, Albarino. 

Forrest had her time as a rebellious teen where the last thing she planned to do was follow her father's footsteps into the family wine business but at Forrest Estate, one of the oldest wineries in Marlborough.

"I was a complete daddy's girl as a youngster and followed Dad around everywhere in the vineyards but by the time I was 15, I had a couple of years of rebellion then went off to Otago University to study geography and microbiology. My passion was geography and I had a love of the land and how it is formed but mum and dad said 'It wouldn't hurt to keep your sciences up, just in case."

She was offered a position to do her PhD with the geography department at the University of Otago but decided to go to Adelaide and study wine after all. "I suddenly realised after my New Zealand degree that the idea of making wine and following in my father's footsteps actually was quite attractive and so I did a masters in winemaking at the University of Adelaide."

That was followed by international travel as well as a philosophy of eat, drink and be merry along the way, interspersed with vintages back home during summer at her parent's winery and then back to the Northern Hemisphere where she worked vintages in the Loire Valley in France, Oregon in the United States, time in Chianti and in northern Spain. 

She is now the chief winemaker and general manager of Forrest Estate in Marlborough. 

This interview is based on Proust questionnaire which originated in 1886

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having a culture of teamwork and family values at Forrest Wines. I have a real belief that it's the family here at Forrest; not just our family but everybody that works here. We don't turn staff over very often. 

What is your favourite thing about wine?

It never stays the same. 

Do you have a most treasured wine?

Chenin Blanc every day. It's got such an expansive character and is so diverse. 

When and where are you at your happiest?

By the seaside. It's a moving picture.

What do you most dislike in wine?

That people believe it's posh or out of reach. 

That people get away from the true, simple joy of a glass of wine. 

Wine isn't for the elite and it doesn't need to be seen that way. 

What is your greatest fear?

That I would let my family down.  

What is your greatest extravagance?

Italian leather boots. 

What is your greatest regret?

I don't think I have many. 

What talent would you most like to have?

To be able to sing. 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A lack of good friends. They give you everything you need; support, love, guidance and sometimes a kick up the arse.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and we'll give it a whirl.

What is your favourite meal?

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and a botrytised Riesling. 

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

A dog in a good home with a sunny deck and a fireplace. It's hard to beat the life of a snuggle by the fire in the winter or a sleep in the sun in the summer.