Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

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New Dry River winemaker announced

One of New Zealand's most iconic wineries has announced a new head winemaker with Joel Watson adding Dry River to his business card, along with his existing role as winemaker at Luna Estate.

The two Martinborough wineries are now owned by Charlie Zheng, who purchased Dry River Wines this month from the late United States billionaire, Julian Robertson, who passed away earlier this year.

“ I’m very conscious of the vineyard’s legacy and was thrilled to be chosen to oversee the viticulture and winemaking operations at Dry River," says Watson, of his new role.

"Dry River is a pioneering winery established in 1979 by Neil McCallum after he and Derek Milne produced a report that literally unearthed the potential of Martinborough. It's one of the heritage brands in one of the country’s top quality wine regions.

“Charlie is deeply committed to Martinborough and has an established viticulture portfolio including Luna Estate as well as the luxury retreat Parehua Resort. Our aim is to honour the Dry River heritage and its pioneering tradition.”

Watson says that Zheng's plan is to continue to build on the sustainable, organic viticulture and winemaking practices of the previous head winemaker Wilco Lam and his team, who brought the integrity of sustainability to this well known high quality winery.