New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards 2018

The best of New Zealand wine will be discovered at New Zealand Winegrowers’ refreshed wine competition later this year.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards is the official national wine competition of the New Zealand wine industry, replacing the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the Bragato Wine Awards, two of the industry’s major wine competitions.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards will combine the very best components of the previous competitions, with a focus on rewarding the grape grower and their single vineyard wines (a core component of the Bragato Wine Awards), as well as championing New Zealand wine excellence on a larger scale (a key objective of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards).

John Clarke, New Zealand Winegrowers Board Chair, says the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards is a fresh approach to celebrating excellence in New Zealand wine.

“The opportunity to recognise the achievements of our grape growers and winemakers in one competition is exciting. The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards will help us to continue building on New Zealand wine’s excellent global reputation,” Mr Clarke says.

Judging of the wines will take place in the first week of October in Auckland. Highly regarded Hawke’s Bay winemaker and Chair of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Warren Gibson, will lead as Chair of Judges, with Marlborough winemaker and Chair of the Bragato Wine Awards, Ben Glover, alongside him as Deputy Chair.

Mr Gibson says the new competition is an exciting opportunity to completely refresh the New Zealand wine awards scene.

“The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards 2018 is more than an amalgamation of the previous two; it is the development of a new, fresh and exciting format. The focus is strongly towards celebrating the entire New Zealand wine industry, with a particular focus on vineyard excellence and
regionality,” Mr Gibson says.

Entries for the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards open on 1 August, with the winners celebrated at the New Zealand Wine Awards on Saturday 3 November in Wellington. More information on the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards can be found at

Have you heard

The pub had just closed and Paddy was taking a shortcut through the cemetery when he fell into a newly dug hole that the gravediggers had left uncovered. Paddy made a valiant attempt to get out but couldn’t make it. He gave up, pulled a bottle from his hip pocket and decided to settle in the corner until morning.

Half an hour later another drunk fell into the hole.

“You’ll never get out lad,” said Paddy

But he did, in one mighty leap.

Maison Vauron – Sept 2018

Maison Vauron is a family story born 19,000km from Auckland, in the charming city of Saint Etienne, 50 km southwest of Lyon, in the Northern Rhone. Everything started in 1879 when Antoine Vauron began his business as a wine merchant. As Obélix, the famous French cartoon character, his great-grandson Jean-Christophe Poizat, fell into it when he was young and perpetuated the family tradition.

In 1991, Jean-Christophe took the opportunity to travel to New-Zealand to learn more about NZ wines. Six months after arriving he would meet his future wife and some years later, his business partners, Peter & Scott. The influence of family has always been strong, with siblings of both JC and Peter involved in various parts of the operation and are still involved today, likewise the partners of both JC and Scott work in the business.

Mention of JC may stir up religious thoughts in some. The theme this time though is fine wine and cheeses, so heavenly still comes to mind. A tasting not to be missed, more in the next newsletter.

Saigon Van Grill Bar – July 2018

We had 48 confirmed and paid people a week before the dinner, but sadly we had two late cancellations on the morning of the dinner.    Generally, members liked the venue even though the stairs were challenging for some.  Several attendees thought, and the committee agreed, that there was not enough food.  The general feeling was that the food was of a good quality but sparse and that the quality did not relate to the price charged.  It was suggested that we maybe should have charged a little more to get more food.  It was decided to feedback to the restaurant about the dinner.  Other than the issue of the food, the committee felt that the evening was enjoyable.

For future dinners, your committee thinks we should encourage people to mingle and chat more while the bubbles are served.   To accomplish this we would, where possible, prefer to serve the pre-dinner drinks away from the tables.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation to Cecilia of her life membership.

See more event photos in the gallery.

Saigon Van, Seifried Zweigelt

Saigon Van

As you will note from the “looking back” item we have taken on board the complaint from a number of those attending the July dinner re the quantity of food provided. We will be taking this up with Saigon Van.

Seifried Zweigelt

You may remember tasting the Seifried Zweigelt at the Seifried tasting back in August 2017.

You may be interested that the wine has been mentioned by Jancis Robinson in an article about some of the different wines now being tried by New Zealand producers.

The accent on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir is well established but there is an increasing move towards different varietals and the article comments on a number of these. Anne Seifried was rapt to get a message from Jancis telling her how good their Zweigelt is.

Robin Semmens

Vintage 2018 benefits from warm summer

New Zealand Winegrowers | 25 June 2018

A warm summer benefited New Zealand’s winegrowing regions, with 419,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during Vintage 2018.

This is up 6% on the 2017 tonnage but is still lower than initially anticipated in a season marked by a very early start to harvesting.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says many wineries had been hoping for an even larger vintage, given 2017’s small harvest.

“However, we now expect export growth in the year ahead will be modest. It will be up to wineries to manage any product shortages from the vintage.”

In addition to prompting an early harvest, the warm summer produced fruit with good ripeness levels.

A highlight from Vintage 2018 is the increased production of red wines.
“Production of both Pinot Noir and Merlot has lifted more than 20% on last year, which will be welcomed by both wineries and consumers. These varieties were down sharply in 2017 and it is very positive to see a return to more normal production levels this year,” Mr Gregan says.

New Zealand Winegrowers is confident Vintage 2018 wines will add to New Zealand’s reputation as a premium producer of cool climate wines.

“Every vintage is different and ultimately the final test is the quality delivered in the bottle to consumers. We are certain that consumers will enjoy the benefits of the warm summer when they get to taste the wines from Vintage 2018,” Mr Gregan says.

New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.71 billion, up 3% in the past year. Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest export good.

For further information contact:

Philip Gregan
Chief Executive Officer
New Zealand Winegrowers
021 964564

Clearview Estate – August 2018

Established in 1989, Clearview Estate Winery, Hawke’s Bay and its iconic ‘red shed’ restaurant enjoys an established, leafy coastal vineyard setting near the historic landscape of Cape Kidnappers.

Sit, under the blue umbrellas or amongst the vines, while you explore the comprehensive seasonal menu from the winery restaurant featuring fresh and creative dishes making innovative use of Hawke’s Bay produce.

Besides grapes, the estate also grows avocados, olives and citrus trees along with a culinary herb garden to supply the restaurant’s kitchen. Enjoy our estate grown, award-winning wines including the iconic Reserve Chardonnay or our Cabernet-Merlot blends – Old Olive Block & Enigma.

More fabulous Hawkes Bay wines to enjoy. You would be silly to miss this one. More detail next month.

Unison Vineyard – Terry Horn – June 2018

Yet another great tasting from a Hawkes Bay winemaker. The night was cold and wet but we were well pleased with the attendance.

Terry from Unison presented a selection of their wines which the committee felt were brilliant. Terry gave a very informative talk with a great pitch.

The wines presented were well received with good orders arising from the night. Terry enjoyed the evening as did the members attending.

The wines included:

  • 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2016 Reserve Chardonnay
  • 2017 Rose
  • 2015 Rocky Red
  • 2012 Reserve Merlot
  • 2013 Classic Red
  • 2013 Syrah

OMG, Tastings, Turn out


OMG, are we halfway through 2018 already?



What a great time we are having this year with a variety of European offerings, two great Hawkes bay producers and a possible iconic Barossa label closer to Christmas, just to name a few.

Turn out

A great turn out expected for Saigon Van, good orders from the Unison tasting and more fun ahead.

I am really looking forward to the second half of 2018

Robin Semmens

Lots of news from Ash Ridge

With another great vintage in the winery, we can all take a small breath and focus on having a little bit of downtime, and enjoying some older vintages! As always, there are lots of new things happening at the winery, and more to come, here are the current highlights.

Online Ordering is now live

New York Brownie with Raspberry Compote

As promised you can now go to our website, and order online. Get your wine club discount of 25% by simply using ASHRIDGECLUB181 in the coupon code. We have updated the site with all of our current release wines. Hopefully, this will make life more convenient for you. We aim to have orders dispatched within 24 hours. If you prefer to order via email, simply send me the details to

As the home of Ash Ridge our cellar door has been a major focus, and we are constantly upgrading everything we do. The latest change is the new menu we have just launched. We are moving to a more Bistro style menu with entree, main and dessert options. So if you feel like a treat please book in for a lunch! Please remember that as a Wine Club member you get 25% off food as well as wine.

Functions and Weddings

Our new facility really opens up a myriad of options for us and you. The new building capacity is 100 people, so we can host functions for much larger groups in beautiful and comfortable surroundings. Our dining area allows for group sizes of 40-45 people seated, and we are also looking at hosting weddings. We are licensed until 10 pm, so we are able to accommodate evening functions as well.

If you have any interest in any of these options, please contact me at

Wine Boxes all now sent

We have completed the May deliveries. Thank you for your patience, we have tried to ensure that all packages have been delivered in a timely manner through Toll, but if for any reason your box has not arrived please contact me at, and we will hunt down the delivery.

I really want to thank you, everyone, for all your support. As a small winery, we can only do what we do with your ongoing support. In a world were access to retail channels is becoming harder and harder, having the direct support of wine lovers is what keeps us going, and we appreciate your current and ongoing support.

Chris and the Team at Ash Ridge.

French vineyard was a tarnished asset when it was sold on a handshake – now it’s a $1b superstar

Devon Pendleton | May 16, 2018

Chateau Margaux dates from 1812; the property, now owned by Corinne Mentzelopoulos, has been a wine estate since the 18th century.

When her father died in 1980, Corinne Mentzelopoulos inherited a business empire that included 1600 grocery stores, 80 buildings in central Paris, a hotel that was once the home of Louis XIV-and a run-down vineyard the family had purchased almost on a whim three years earlier.

Today, the vineyard has made her a billionaire. It’s Chateau Margaux, one of just a handful of properties that can claim the prized Premier Cru designation bestowed by Napoleon III in 1855 upon Bordeaux’s very best terroirs for making wine.

Continue reading “French vineyard was a tarnished asset when it was sold on a handshake – now it’s a $1b superstar”