Back to the Future

14 November 2014

It all started at the 2005 Chardonnay Challenge in Gisborne. At the time Simon was winemaker at Montana Wines in Gisborne and I was looking to go overseas. A friend had invited me to the long lunch which concludes the Chardonnay Challenge. Simon had been a affiliate judge at this event. I was going for the wine!

A mutual friend introduced us and from that moment I was intrigued. Who was this tall, handsome, well spoken man? We had lunch and I couldn't get him out of my mind. I absolutely had to talk to him or "my life would never be the same". We speed dated that afternoon, I have never spoken so fast nor felt so intelligent and witty.

It was all on from then. Our dreams had a common theme, we had found each other and set off to explore the world within six months of meeting.

Simon had secured a job in Italy as sole charge winemaker for Farnese Vini. We were to be posted in the Campania region, at a contract facility Torre Gaia. Living on site and lending a hand in the winery I was to witness Simons ultimate passion for wine. The intensity and love of which he approached the vintage was unforgiving. The Falanghina he made was voted best italian white wine in the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2006.

We spent a lot of time talking about where we could live, what we could do, how we could do it. After vintage was over we were ready to unleash ourselves into a project. We had left New Zealand thinking it was possible we would never go back. I wasn't sure and proposed that we move anywhere in New Zealand as I'd be confident in my own country. Simon declared Martinborough was the place to be, as it had the potential to make the best wine in the world.


Campania Italy 2006


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