In any industry or endeavour there are people who stand
out, who lead the field in new directions, push boundaries, or
contribute to the community.
In her new book, The Wild Bunch: Movers, shakers and
groundbreakers of the New Zealand wine industry (New
Holland), Joelle Thomson profiles 18 New Zealand winemakers
and industry leaders. They range from those who first made
their mark in the 1960s and '70s, such as Peter Babich, Terry
Dunleavy, Sir George Fistonich and Nick Nobilo, to younger
ones who have come to prominence in the past couple of
decades such as Blair Walter of Felton Road, Mat Donaldson
and Lynette Hudson of Pegasus Bay, Patrick Materman of Pernod
Ricard and Gordon Russell of Esk Valley. There are pioneers
of particular regions such as Alan Brady and Rudi Bauer in
Central Otago, Clive Paton and Larry McKenna in
Martinborough, the Goldwaters on Waiheke Island, Ross Spence,
the first to plant sauvignon blanc in New Zealand, and James
Millton, who pioneered organic and biodynamic viticulture in
Gisborne; Tim and Judy Finn of Neudorf who started their
Nelson vineyard in their hippy days and built it to one of
the most respected in the country; Kevin Judd, founding
winemaker of Cloudy Bay who went on to do his own thing in
Greywacke, and Michael Brajkovich who took the family winery
to new heights.
Each one's story is told and their opinions about the
industry and the future given and achievements summarised, as
well as incidental snippets like what wine they would take to
a desert island.
It's a timely summary of some of the leaders of the industry
as it comes out of a cycle of oversupply, and a welcome
profile of some of the important figures who have helped it
become the success it is.
The book is an interesting, if sometimes repetitive read.