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Misha’s Vineyard Matches

Posted on February 1st, 2016

The 2016 year is kicking off for Misha’s Vineyard with a season of wine dinners and events planned across a wide array of locations during the first few months of the year.

Table logoTable restaurant at Nice Hotel is an award-winning restaurant and considered to be New Plymouth’s finest. On February 21st Table will present their first Sunday Long Lunch of the year featuring Misha’s Vineyard Wines. Hotel owner and host Terry Parkes has built a huge reputation for The Sunday Long Lunch at the Nice Hotel – popular with local business people, foodies and wine enthusiasts. Misha and Andy will talk about the wine as the chef team present a 5 course degustation menu over a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

s5_logoFollowing later in the week the The Copthorne hotel’s One80 restaurant in Wellington’s Oriental Bay, will be the venue for another Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner. With Executive Chef Chetan Pangam leading the team, One80 boasts stunning views across Oriental Bay with the restaurant receiving many culinary awards including Beef & Lamb Hallmark of Excellence every year since 2006.

Heading on a South East Asian tour in March, Misha and Andy’s schedule of wine dinners and events will start in Kuching (Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo), then Penang Island in North West Malaysia, followed by two events in Singapore including the five star Intercontinental Hotel and the Singapore Island Country Club.

Rees LogoThen back on home turf for the 1st of April, Misha’s Vineyard and The Rees Hotel in Queenstown will be teaming up to host the first True South Culinary Series Dinner for the year. Ben Batterbury, Executive Chef at The Rees Hotel who has been pairing food with Misha’s Vineyard wines for some years now, will bring his finely honed culinary skills to craft an eight course degustation menu from the best of Central Otago’s produce, to complement wines selected from eight vintages and featuring many of Misha’s Vineyard library wines in this special evening to mark the 10th vintage of the estate.

It sounds like an exhausting schedule of matches but promises to be lots of fun for all the players! So please book at your nearest venue as we’d love to see you there. Game on!

“Earn Your Lunch” at Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on October 29th, 2015

Sue teaches our guest how to shoot thin vines.

Sue teaches our guest how to shoot thin vines.

Aaron with his students

Aaron with his students


Misha’s Vineyard recently hosted visitors as part of the Down To Earth Central Otago wine experience providing an opportunity to earn lunch by doing a little vineyard work. After an overview tour of the vineyard to show the unique North West facing location on Lakefront Terraces and our terroir, our guests were provided expert instruction by our vineyard team on shoot thinning the new season’s growth on our vines. They then proceeded to practice their new-found skills for about 45 minutes under watchful eyes. It was a unique experience demonstrating just a little of the hard work and hand tending of vines that goes into producing premium wines.

Lunch at Ah Foo's House

Lunch at Ah Foo’s House


After the working session we took them up to our Lucky 8 vines and Ah Foos House – the re-created gold-miner ruins that helps to tell the story of the Chinese gold miners who worked on the land extracting gold over 150 years ago. With a log fire burning in Ah Foo’s fireplace as the backdrop, Misha took the group through a tasting of several Misha’s Vineyard wines describing the influences of the vineyard on the wine styles and specific flavours and textures that come from our spectacular vineyard site.

After choosing a glass of their favourite wine, the guests and our vineyard team settled into a magnificent lunch platter prepared by Moreish Kitchen owner Kimberly Jillings. Sitting in Ah Foo’s House and surrounded by the vines was a relaxing setting after the working session – helped by Ah Foo’s ghostly presence no doubt!

No-one was in a hurry to leave and all expressed their delight at the experience of seeing how a premium vineyard works, then tasting the result!

Just About to Spring into Another Season on Misha’s Vineyard!

Posted on September 22nd, 2015

The Spring Update from Michelle Dacombe – Vineyard Manager, Misha’s Vineyard

Michelle Vineyard Manager

Michelle
Vineyard Manager

After a long cold and dry winter, spring is here — and so are the weeds! This year’s pruning went well with our small team of 3 (with additional help for a month from one casual employee) managing to knock out the almost 26 hectares – that’s 65,000 vines – each one carefully given personal attention!

This year, we’re doing a small trial in two different locations on the vineyard where we have converted the vines from spur pruning to cane pruning. Throughout the growing season we will be able to monitor the differences in reference to timing (budburst, flowering, veraison, etc), fruit set, fruit quality, and once we have ripened the fruit, we can see if there is any difference in the flavour profiles. With each clone of Pinot Noir offering its own viewpoint on the varietal characteristics it will be interesting to note any changes or differences that may arise from pruning.

Spring Vines ready for the new season

Spring Vines ready for the new season

In early spring, the weather can be somewhat erratic and we’re having the occasional day where we have southerlies screaming down the valley which can really chill things down, but the soil temperature is up to 10 degrees which is a bit of a light switch for plants. It’s time to start growing. While the weeds are poking their heads out the vines aren’t quite convinced yet. It looks like it will be another week or two before they make an appearance.

In the meantime, there is plenty to get on with. Commissioning the irrigation in the vineyard is always a big spring job. Every vineyard row has lateral tubing which delivers the irrigation water. Every row must be checked to ensure it’s performing to its potential. Any issues that are found must be fixed and maintenance kept up to ensure optimal performance throughout the summer when irrigation demand reaches its peak. The weatherman seems to think we are in for another very dry summer, so we need the irrigation in tip top shape! The rest of the spring will be filled in with trellis and equipment maintenance – there are tractors to be serviced and cleaned and the sprayer calibrated to make sure we are ready when the vines give the signal.

It won’t be long now.

Misha’s Vineyard on Tour in Australia

Posted on September 4th, 2015

Misha reports on the recent trip to Australia as part of the Central Otago Wineries tour.

Ready! Prince Wine Store - Sydney

Ready! Prince Wine Store – Sydney

We’ve been touring with 10 fellow Central Otago wineries for a series of consumer tasting events in Melbourne and Sydney, did some training with some of the new staff at our distributor (Fesq & Co.), and squeezed in a few trade visits to customers in Sydney, Melbourne as well as a day in Brisbane. It was 8 days exhausting days but we met a lot of folks and shared a lot of wine with people!

Our first stop was in Sydney where we went to the new(ish) Prince Wine Store in Zetland which is a great addition to the fine wine retailing scene in Sydney. The Prince Wine Shop in Melbourne is a destination shop so we’re sure this one will be the same.

New friends! The Winery

New friends! The Winery

With an ‘only Pinot Noir’ theme, visitors to the store had a chance to try over 30 Central Otago Pinots and we had a great turn out. Our next tasting was at The Winery at Surry Hills which was a great venue for some informal tasting with a much younger group of consumers who were keen to explore what Central Otago had to offer, so all the wineries showcased white wines as well as Pinot Noir. Our final Sydney tasting was at the Royal Automobile Club run by The Pinot Shop, which provided an added benefit by giving consumers the opportunity of trying wines with the new Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir Glass. The glass made such a difference, and not only for the Pinot Noir but the examples of Pinot Gris and Riesling that were available for tasting also performed well in the new glass which really emphasized the gorgeous aromas of these cool climate beauties.

Great turn-out of customers at Tom's Cellars

Great turn-out of customers at Tom’s Cellars

We were also were pleased to be able to host a tasting evening with one of our big retail supporters, Tom’s Cellars in West Pymble on the North Shore of Sydney. We presented some back vintages of our dry Lyric Riesling to an enthusiastic group in his cellar space under the shop, along with the full range of the Misha’s Vineyard wines we offer in Australia. The customers at Tom’s were genuinely interested in the wines, Central Otago region and the stories of Misha’s Vineyard. It was a really fun night and we had a very enthusiastic audience.

Brent from Wine Emporuim

Brent, Wine Emporuim

I dashed up to Brisbane for a very busy day visiting some of our favourite restaurant customers and retailers – -it’s always good to see Brent at Wine Emporium.
Tyson with Misha

Tyson with Misha

During the day there I finally caught up with the multi-award winning writer Tyson Stelzer. Gosh – what a great guy. When you’re talking to Tyson you have his full attention and he sure doesn’t appear to have any ego. It’s quite refreshing to meet an Australian wine journalist that’s as down-to-earth and such a nice guy! I finished the day in Brisbane with an evening tasting at Stewarts at the Barracks where we enjoyed meeting some new Misha’s Vineyard converts and where a gentleman happily walked home carrying a case of The High Note Pinot Noir with his complimentary pack of Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir glasses that I had bought with me as a giveaway!

Prince Wine Store - Melbourne

Prince Wine Store – Melbourne

Our time in Melbourne, despite the grey and dampness, was busy and we managed to fit in some training with our distributor team before hitting the road for some trade calls. One of our schedule Melbourne events was a tasting evening at Armadale Cellars who pride themselves on their focus and selection of fine wines and their loyal customers certainly proved how knowledgeable they were during our evening tasting. This year the two events we did with Prince Wine Shop included a dinner at their associated restaurant Bellota, which featured a Misha’s Vineyard Verismo Pinot Noir 2009 which Philip Rich (owner of Prince Wine Store) highlighted as a standout wine on the evening, and the big Saturday tasting event which had shop staff saying they hardly ever get that sort of turnout to a Saturday tasting! Well when you have nearly a dozen of Central Otago wine producers pouring their best – it’s sure to bring out the biggest crowd, right?

Huka Lodge Invites Misha’s Vineyard for an Opera Weekend

Posted on August 4th, 2015

Misha and Andy were invited to one of New Zealand’s – and the world’s – most iconic luxury lodges!

Well it wasn’t just Misha’s Vineyard who were invited to be part of the Italian Opera Weekend in June of this year – we were in fact part of an amazing group that included celebrity chef Stefano Manfredi, who flew over from Sydney, Jonathan Alver (artistic director of the New Zealand Opera) and five up and coming stars from the New Zealand Opera School! This special weekend was billed as an opportunity for guests to be “enriched and inspired by beautiful voices, fine cuisine and stunning wines”.

Chef Stefano cooking class

Chef Stefano cooking class

After joining in to watch the cooking demonstration for Huka Lodge guests by Stefano Manfredi on the perfect risotto, Andy and I then hosted guests in the Main Lodge Room and introduced Misha’s Vineyard and shared with them the story of how a background in opera and ballet became an inspiration for our brand. We finished just in time for pre-dinner cocktails where guests were able to try our first 2 wines – ‘The Starlet’ Sauvignon Blanc and our ‘Impromptu’ Pinot Noir.

NZ Opera Singers entertain between courses.

NZ Opera Singers entertain between courses.

Our degustation dinner commenced at 8pm in the main dining room which was full and in fact over-flowing – with in fact a few guests on an additional table in the library room. We were all still sitting at tables at nearly midnight after our four-hour (5-course) feast! The evening was broken up into segments of amazing food, performances by the opera stars, explanations of each course by Chef Manfredi and of course introductions to each wine by yours truly! Given that our wines all have names inspired by the opera or the theatre, it seemed only right that we were introducing wines like ‘The High Note’ at this opera-inspired dinner. After a sumptuous meal, everyone retired back into the Lodge Room for drinks, petit-fours and coffee.

The next morning at 10am, I utilized my training as a musicologist and hosted a casual session we called ‘Divas and Doughnuts’ in The Trophy Room for those guests keen on hearing and understanding a bit more abaut opera. I presented a couple of short excerpts from Lucia di Lammermoor – one of the great tragic operas by Gaetano Donizetti – which featured Dame Joan Sutherland. This particular opera inspired the name of some of our wines and also it was an opera I had performed in (as a dancer) whilst my mother was singing as part of the Australian Opera. And this was at the time that Dame Joan herself was singing the lead role of Lucia.

Divas and Doughnuts session

Divas and Doughnuts session

The excerpts presented included ‘The Mad Scene’ which has one of opera’s most famous Cadenzas (in fact a double cadenza for voice and flute) which seemed appropriate given ‘The Cadenza’ is the name of our newly-released dessert wine. Then as one of the examples of “The High Note’ (the name of our main estate Pinot Noir), I played the sextet from the end of the second act of Lucia di Lammermoor, “Chi mi frena in tal momento” which has Dame Joan hit one of the most stunning high notes I ever heard! Other opera segments I presented demonstrated different aspects of opera that relate to our sub-brand naming including some particularly poignant opera arias from the ‘Verismo’ period – the name of our reserve Pinot Noir.

By the way, we absolutely adored everything about Huka Lodge and are fortunate to be spending a couple of days back there in November – but purely for relaxation purposes!

Negociants New Zealand June Tour

Posted on June 30th, 2015

The "Serious Sauvignon" Masterclass panel

The “Serious Sauvignon” Masterclass panel

Every year we look forward to the Negociants New Zealand “Aussie & Kiwi Winemakers Tour”. It’s a time when all the Australian and New Zealand producers on the Negociants Portfolio get together under one roof to show new releases and catch up with customers.

What is special about this tour is we all get together as friends. Mostly we do only meet once each year on the tour but we spend most of the week together, catching early morning or evening flights, working hard all day then relaxing over a late dinner and glass of wine. Being part of the Negociants New Zealand family is something special.

Customers try new releases and talk to the winemakers

Customers try new releases and talk to the winemakers

Likewise our customers that we meet each year have become friends. So many of them come every year to see us on the tour – but they support us all year and follow us on Facebook or other forums to keep up with our activities.

The schedule was busy – arriving in Auckland on Monday morning – straight into Masterclasses, then trade tasting all afternoon followed by a quick pack-up and off to Wellington. The same schedule flowed from Wellington to Christchurch then finishing in Dunedin.

Thanks Negociants – It’s a great tour, expertly run and well worthwhile.

Misha’s Vineyard in Fiji

Posted on May 27th, 2015

In May Misha and Andy visited our distributor and customers in Fiji

Fiji - trade calls in Denarau (63)Bula! You might think that a trip to Fiji is hardly likely to be a business trip but I can assure you our trip in May was absolutely packed with trade visits, wine training with various hotels and resorts, hosting various wine dinners, and also spending some time with wonderful distributor, Victoria Wines.

Arriving in Nadi, we were met by Kate Vusoniwailala, whose father Liam established Victoria Wines many years back and who still is very involved in the business. Kate is now responsible for the day-to-day running of the business and is doing an amazing job and expanding the team. In fact Victoria Wines now has a training manager on board and has started to provide WSET education which is a milestone for Fiji in terms of hospitality education. Just a couple of weeks before we arrived, Victoria Wines had invited one of New Zealand’s Master of Wine, Jane Skilton, to Fiji to conduct some WSET training in Nadi and Suva.

Gateway to Castaway Island Resort

Gateway to Castaway Island Resort

After a short trip from the airport, we settled into the beautiful Sofitel Hotel on Denarau Island and as the sun went down we acclimatised to our new surroundings with a ‘Bula – Life on the Beach’ – a very colourful cocktail that’s a speciality of the hotel! Next day our business activities start and we met by the effervescent Joyce Kumari, who heads the sales team, and were off on our first call.
Arriving in style at Castaway Island

Arriving in style at Castaway Island

This first meeting was via boat – in fact it was via the local ferry first and then mid-ocean we transferred to a smaller boat – and then we had to jump out of the small boat and wade in to the island! The vision of Andy with his shoes and socks popped the top of the carton of wine he was carrying from the boat up the beach looked like he was doing an ad for courier company DHL – ‘we will delivery…no matter what’! We had a wonderful meeting with Steven and Monica on Castaway Island – our first-ever barefoot trade call sitting at a table under palm trees. That’s the way all meetings should take place.

Joyce & Misha

Joyce & Misha

Back at Denarau Port we had the opportunity to visit the brand new Yacht Club with their wonderful restaurant Rhum-Ba. In fact we visited it on their first day of business and came back and had dinner on their 2nd night of operations – and it was fabulous. We were delighted to see that our Misha’s Vineyard Lyric Riesling is featured on their small and carefully chosen wine list and we hear there will be more of our wines on the list soon! If you’re ever in Denarau, visit the Yacht Club – which promises to be one of the most popular spots in town judging by the number of people we saw there in the first couple of days of business. Whilst on Denarau Island, we also met with met with the F&B Directors of some of the top hotels (including at the Sofitel Hotel where we were staying) and did another wonderful training session with the team at the Hilton Hotel. We had been to the Hilton two years earlier and they stock Misha’s Vineyard wines, so it was great to go back and do some refresher training there.

The amazing Victoria Wines team

The amazing Victoria Wines team

The next day after some training with the Victoria Wines team, Andy and I headed out to the airport for our flight to Laucala Island – the second time we have been invited to the island. Laucala (pronounced ‘Lauthala’) is to the east of Taveuni Island and is owned by billionaire Dietrich-Mateschitz of Red Bull fame. Initially his own private island, Laucala is now open to visitors but targets only the world’s most discerning travellers and frequently hosts celebrities looking for the ultimate in luxury and privacy. We were flown out on one of the island’s private planes and on arrival settled into our gloriously spacious hilltop villa. It’s hard to describe the luxury of Laucala Island – you need to experience to know just how perfect a place can be!

Our villa at Laucala

Our villa at Laucala

Our first evening on Laucala Island started with cocktails at the Rock Lounge with Tony, the golf pro who manages the 18-hole championship golf course, then a wonderful Asian-inspired dinner at Seagrass Lounge. It’s not unusual to be the only people at a restaurant at Laucala Island as they regularly have less than a dozen guests on the island and five restaurants – hard to get your head around right? But wait, they have a staggering 370 staff because Laucala Island is focussed on sustainability with most of what’s used on the island being produced on the island, so many of the staff are involved in the organic farms and gardens producing fruit, vegetables, herbs and meat for resort restaurants as well as flowers and spices for the spa.

Staff training at Laucala - lots of fun!

Staff training at Laucala – lots of fun!

The next day, Andy and I delivered wine education to the F&B teams starting with a three-hour session in the morning which was repeated in the afternoon with a second group of staff. We taught the Laucala Island team about New Zealand wine, detailed information on the key varieties and we did a little wine tasting with them too. With many having taken some WSET education already so they were a pretty knowledgeable crew! In the evening we hosted a wine dinner in the main restaurant Plantation House with some of the guests and the islands General Manager Andrew Thomson, with the range of our wines that the resort carries, as well as a few special wines we brought over with us. Sadly the next morning, we had to leave the island but we do have an invitation to return again! We will definitely be back.

The team training at The Pearl

The team training at The Pearl

We flew into Suva and spent a day visiting customers and also training the Victoria Wines team in the lovely new shop in Damodar City centre then we drove down to The Pearl South Pacific Resort which is set on one of Fiji’s longest beaches. Within a few minutes of arriving we were back into wine training for the team at the hotel! With the training complete, we had a little time to relax before we headed to the brand new restaurant at the hotel called Seduce. The hotel’s General Manager Natalie Marletta, was responsible for conceiving the restaurant and she’s done an amazing job as it’s a seriously beautiful space with the most incredible views across the ocean. Chef Ben Tedrick created some superb and innovative food with his degustation menu. This was our second wine event at The Pearl, having been there two years earlier for a wine lunch. I have a feeling we’ll be back at The Pearl before too long as well!

The next morning we were driven back to Nadi to connect without flight home and back to reality. The truth is i I only had about 15 minutes in a pool the whole time we were in Fiji as it really was a business trip. However, we dined on some of the most amazing food, had the most glorious cocktails, stayed in some luxurious hotels and resorts and met some of the nicest and happiest people in the world. I don’t mind that sort of work!

Canadian “Gold Medal Plates” Visit to Vineyard

Posted on March 30th, 2015

Olly talks about the Central Otago region and wines

Olly talks about the Central Otago region and wines

On 30th March we welcomed a group of 20 Canadian visitors to Misha’s Vineyard. Lead by well-known Toronto wine writer and educator David Lawrason, the wine interest group was part of a larger “Gold Medal Plates” tour from Canada who were visiting New Zealand. Gold Medal Plates raises money for high performance Canadian athletes through culinary events and trip auctions.

With the weather having been forecast cold and damp we were delighted to see clear skies and no wind in the morning as we set up marquee, tables and wine table ahead of their arrival. The area around Ah Foo’s House on the Top Block of Misha’s Vineyard has been used for

David Lawrason talks to the group about the style of New Zealand wines

David Lawrason talks to the group about the style of New Zealand wines

smaller groups and tastings before, but not for a larger scale lunch so our vineyard crew had done some clearing work earlier in the week to make sure we had space for the lunch marquee and a gazebo for the food and wine. We lit the fire in Ah Foo’s to make sure there was some warmth should the weather turn cold and to add to the character and atmosphere of the site.

On arrival the group were given an introduction to Misha’s Vineyard and an overview of the Central Otago wine region by Vineyard Manager Michelle Dacombe and Misha’s Vineyard winemaker Olly Masters. This introduction included a tour of the vineyard with Michelle to see the slopes and soils of the vineyard, and a tasting of wines from Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum, Quartz Reef and Mondillo hosted by Olly to show the quality and diversity of wines from the region. One of our seasonal vineyard team – Haruru Kubo a sommelier from Tokyo – helped with pouring the wines as we talked about the climate, soils, viticulture and winemaking that has propelled Central Otago wines to prominence in such a short time.

Cooking the Paella

Cooking the Paella

Rees Hotel GM Mark Rose with the Paella

Rees Hotel GM Mark Rose with the Paella

The group were staying at The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments in Queenstown, and lunch was prepared by hotel General Manager Mark Rosewho proved his culinary expertise in quite rustic surroundings. With limited cooking facilities available on the vineyard Mark and Mika used Ah Foo’s fireplace to prepare the Paella and our small BBQ to cook the chicken and seafood topping. The lunch was quite spectacular. The fireplace gave a slight smoky note to the Paella which was sensational, and the finishing touches produced a platter that could have been from any fine dining kitchen. Ah Foo would have been impressed!

Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

David Lawrason gave a pre-lunch talk on the wines we had for the day, plus some other wines of New Zealand that had been bought along to show the group. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on the wines of New Zealand and how each region has such distinctive characters that show through.

Lunch was a huge success and we won a lot of fans for Central Otago wines from this high profile Canadian group. Thanks to Rudi (Quartz Reef), Lucie (Aurum) and Dominic (Mondillo) for assisting with great wines.

Misha’s Vineyard Returns to Singapore

Posted on March 28th, 2015

Misha updates on her recent trip to Singapore to visit customers and attend SAVOUR – the Singapore food and wine extravaganza.

Visitors at Savour 2015

Visitors at Savour 2015

Given we lived in Singapore for over 17 years, returning for business trips feels like returning home in many ways. Waiting at Auckland airport for my Singapore Airlines flight, I read the news about the passing of Lee Kuan Yew in the early hours of that day. Lee was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and known as the founding father of independent Singapore – a country which transitioned from a third world country to a first world country in a single generation under his leadership. So it was with sadness that I boarded the flight but also feeling a sense of consolation that I was at least going to be in Singapore during the week of mourning.

My Singapore work schedule started with an Indian themed trade dinner which, to be honest, I had been a little nervous about when I realised the wine pairing wasn’t a case of one wine with one dish but one wine with 3-6 dishes within each course! However my fears were allayed once we started this wine dinner at Tandoor Restaurant at the Holiday Inn as the team there were actually quite expert in matching food and wine flavours – and have won awards for doing so! The evening worked brilliantly and we had quite a large group of trade attending. Some of them admitted they came as they were curious as to how wines could match the diverse menu that had been published! What I learned from the evening is that Pinot Noir is a very versatile wine (actually I already knew that!) and that aromatic white wines with some residual sugar are wonderful food companions to spicy food – and to be honest I knew that too! Our Limelight Riesling really proved herself to be the most accommodating of all the wines with the foods we were served so my advice is, if you like Indian food, you absolutely need buy some Misha’s Vineyard Limelight Riesling!

Visitors at Savour 2015

Visitors at Savour 2015

I was able to meet some new accounts during some trade visits and am pleased to announce that Harry’s now carry our Limelight Riesling in Singapore thanks to a great tasting with Darren Mark Ee. And I’m also pleased to announce that the Grand Hyatt in Singapore now have our Sauvignon Blanc listed after a tasting with Chai – and a bit of pressure from long-term expat Phil Medway who’s a regular at the Grand Hyatt and very keen to be drinking our Sauvignon Blanc on a regular basis! I had a fabulous day visiting customers and potential new accounts with Ivy Lee, one of our distributor, Crystal Wines’ most experienced sales staff and who predominantly looks after the 5 star hotels.

Visitors at Savour 2015

Visitors at Savour 2015

The main reason for my visit to Singapore was to participate in the Savour event – a food and wine extravaganza which ran from the 26th to 29th March. Having participated at Savour before, I knew it was going to be tough going with 4 days of standing behind a counter serving wine. Fortunately the first two days only have evening sessions instead of all day sessions! The wine showcased at the event was all from Crystal Wines, so it was a wonderful selection of premium wine from around the world. To attend Savour, attendees pay SGD $60 to just in through the main gate and then to get into the wine area, there was an additional tasting ticket required (which was then refunded on purchase of two bottles of any wine). I must say, it was a pleasure serving wines and talking about our wines over the four days of the event as many people were pretty wine savvy and the rest were really keen to learn more! One of the big hits in terms of our wines, was ‘The Cadenza’ – our new late harvest Gewurztraminer which seemed to be something that everyone enjoyed. Thank goodness Crystal had ordered enough stock of this wine as it was a bottle that people were purchasing to take home with them!

Visitors at Savour 2015

Visitors at Savour 2015

I presented a Masterclass on Pinot Noir in the Wine Theatre on the second evening of the event entitled “Pinot Noirs of the World – New Zealand’s Place in the World”. We had a full attendance at the class where the first part of the class went through various aspects of growing and making Pinot Noir. We then poured 6 Pinot Noirs for the class and gave them a list of 6 Pinot Noir regions and some time to taste the wines and match the Pinots with a region. As we then went through each Pinot Noir and unveiled their origins, most people were surprised with very few able to select the correct region. Within the flight of Pinots there were two from New Zealand (Marlborough and Central Otago) and the other regions represented were Burgundy (France), Willamette Valley (Oregon, USA), Yarra Valley (Victoria, Australia) and Casablanca Valley (Chile). The class certainly showed the diversity of Pinot Noir but I think it also showed that New Zealand makes some fine examples of this variety!

The nice thing about being in Singapore for the Savour event was being able to spend a bit of time with Kimberley Judd from Greywacke and her son Alex. Greywacke and Misha’s Vineyard are on the same portfolio in New Zealand with Negociants and also in Singapore with Crystal Wines. So between sessions at Savour we shared a few coffees, a couple of lunches and the odd glass of something sparkling!

On tour in Hong Kong & China – March 2015

Posted on March 25th, 2015

A report on the recent sales trip to Hong Kong & China by Andy & Olly

With the focus that is placed on the Chinese wine market it is always interesting to get out and meet sommeliers, retailers, consumers and wine sales people in Hong Kong and China. The hype is always a little above the reality, but these are still very important markets and ones that Misha’s Vineyard has been investing in.

Members at the Foreign Correspondents Club

Members at the Foreign Correspondents Club

Olly Master (our winemaker) and I started in Hong Kong with visits to current and prospective customers at some of the most amazing hotels and restaurants including The Upper House and The Park Lane Hotel. Hong Kong was one of Misha’s Vineyard’s first four markets and we have started to develop some great history with both our wine distributor – Jebsen Fine Wines – and many of their customers. Monday night, after an overnight flight from Auckland, we did our first wine dinner with the enthusiastic and vocal members of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club.

Olly with Celia from Jebsen HK and Roger Chan of Greys at The Upper House

Olly with Celia from Jebsen HK and Roger Chan of Greys at The Upper House

Organisers from the clubs wine committee wanted to have us share the stories of our Chinese connection with the members, as well as some detailed information on the wines. Perfect for myself to be the story-teller and Olly the more serious wine guy! We had a great evening – lots of questions and plenty of laughter and chatter. The evening finished with a quick quiz on Central Otago wines – with the winners taking home a bottle of our fab Pinot Noir.

Some of the party at Ming Court

Some of the party at Ming Court

After visiting customers on Tuesday we returned to the two Michelin Star Cantonese restaurant, Ming Court at The Langham Hotel in Mong Kok. Misha and I had hosted a wine dinner at Ming Court two years ago and were amazed by the food and service – this dinner was no exception. The dinner guests were customer of Rare & Fine Wines – one of our long term retailers in Hong Kong whose stores boast some of the finest wines of the world, and whose customers are some of Hong Kong’s most discerning wine collectors. The menu was again truly amazing, with dishes matched to our wines by sommelier Vincent Yuen and the chefs in this icon restaurant of Asia. The guests had a great night – with lots of toasts and “cheers” as the evening progressed.

Wednesday was training day for the Jebsen sales team – a refresher on Misha’s Vineyard for many of the team and an introduction for some new sales reps who have joined recently. We also had the opportunity to have dinner with well-known wine writer and educator Mabel Lai, with her husband Hood and principal lecturer Karl who with Mabel run the Hong Kong Wine Academy. Mabel is studying for her Master of Wine which offer the opportunity for Hood, Karl and Olly to challenge her with some blind tastings of wines bought along. She certainly impressed with her well trained palate picking up most of the wine styles and characters!

Hong Kong is a vibrant and dynamic city and we love the enthusiasm we see at every event we participate in!

Fried Scorpion

Fried Scorpion

BBQ Snake

BBQ Snake

Grilled spiders

Grilled spiders

On to Beijing and Olly’s first visit to China. With our hotel being right next to The Forbidden City and a short walk to Tiananmen Square Olly had the chance to explore a little in the evenings and also try some local delicacies

Jebsen Beijing team

Jebsen Beijing team

Our visit to Beijing was quite brief – but with training of the Jebsen team in the Friday morning and an afternoon trade masterclass held at the China World Hotel we had the opportunity to meet quite a few sommeliers and all of the Jebsen Beijing team. A lot of the talk was of how clean the air was that week – unusual for Beijing but because the government was holding a major “congress” of all senior Communist Party leaders, the surrounding factories had been closed as they did for the Olympics to reduce the smog for a short period.

Next city was Shanghai – one of my favourite cities in the world (pollution aside). Since going there first more than 25 years ago it has changed drastically from drab grey two story concrete and brick houses and narrow street markets to a mass of skyscrapers, designer shops, massive shopping malls and great hotels. We had a weekend to explore and shop before starting work with customer lunches, trade meetings and staff training on Monday & Tuesday.

Olly presenting at TasteSpirit masterclass

Olly presenting at TasteSpirit masterclass

Part of the schedule included a masterclass on “Central Otago – Pinot Noir and more” for the TasteSpirit wine school founded by Young Shi (who visited us in NZ) and Siwei Zhu. The class was packed, and included one of our former vineyard workers who had returned to China to continue wine studies! Olly provided the technical and informative part of the class – with wines to show why Central Otago has such an amazing reputation not just for Pinot Noir – but also cool climate aromatic wines. My role was some light entertainment in-between with our Chinese gold mining stories, and the connection of Misha’s opera background to the wine names. They even played opera excerpts – selected by Misha – to match the wines. Olly and many of the class were convinced the music made the wines taste different!

Olly talks to a customer at The Langham tasting

Olly talks to a customer at The Langham tasting

The last event in Shanghai was an open trade tasting at the beautiful Langham Hotel where they have our wines listed and served by-the-glass. We had a number of sommeliers and wine retailers come through to taste the wines and chat to Olly and myself. The impressive images of Misha’s Vineyard had been set onto art boards by our brand manager at Jebsen China – Amanda – and had a real impact at the venue.

Final stop was in Guangzhou, a city of over 20 million people where I have not been for over 10 years. While our wines are with Jebsen Fine Wines in Guangzhou we had not made it there on previous visits to do training or visit any customers. It was a short visit but well worthwhile with our morning staff training and lunch at The Westin Hotel – overlooking the central park and some of the redeveloped areas of Guangzhou.

While everything about this trip flowed easily we know how much work goes into making these visits a success. A huge thanks to the Jebsen teams in both Hong Kong and China – we look forward to coming back again soon.