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Grape Expectations

Cityscape caught up with Waipara Hills’ new winemaker Andrew Brown as he settles into his new role at the award-winning winery.

How would you describe your winemaking style?

I like to make honest wines, which express where they come from and boast textural qualities. I am passionate about capturing flavours at their peak in any given season, so working with the viticulture team throughout the growing season and making the all-important picking decisions at harvest is essential. In terms of winemaking, drinkability is key, as is tying in my take on site and varietal expression.

What attracted you to Waipara Hills?

I’ve always been a fan of Waipara, so the opportunity to take up the role as Waipara Hills winemaker and to work with the vineyards and fruit from this region was a big draw card. Waipara Hills has a fantastic viticultural team, led by Waipara Hills Vineyard Manager Jean-Luc Dufour, who planted the vines and has been there for more than two decades. He’s a huge asset.

How will you put your stamp on your vintages?

I’m keen on trialling varying levels of ‘skin contact’ with aromatic varietals such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltiner and Muscat. It’s a technique that can add another layer to the aromatic and textural profile of a wine. I want to evolve my own winemaking style along the way … such an exciting challenge!

How has your international experience influenced your winemaking?

Overseas harvests are hard to beat; I had some fantastic times in Alsace and Oregon, and would recommend to anyone starting out in the industry that they should notch up as many overseas vintages as they can – I wish I did more! Vintages in the old world in particular open your eyes to how controlled we keep things in the wine making sense here in New Zealand. It’s great to experience a different approach.

What’s your favourite drop?

I’m pretty keen on most varietals, but if I had to pick it would be Pinot Noir and Riesling. Riesling – particularly from Germany and right here in the Waipara Valley – has always been a favourite of mine because of its stylistic versatility. Off the back of the Pinot 2017 celebration I was able to try a plethora of site-expressive Pinot Noir from this country, which has taken my interest in that varietal to the next level.

Tell us your fave wine fact.

There is more Pinot Gris (Grauer Burgunder) being made in Germany now than Riesling. Which is the most underrated wine? Riesling. People love to drink it but they don’t buy it. As I mentioned, it’s a favourite of mine because of its stylistic versatility; I think people are really missing out!

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