The Art of Leaf Plucking at Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on January 22nd, 2015

A little about why we pluck leaves from the vines

The vine before leaf plucking

The vine before leaf plucking

We’re midway through summer and at the point in the season where we need to do some leaf plucking. This process involves the removal of a few leaves around our grape bunches which increases the exposure to sunlight and provides a number of beneficial effects:

- it reduces disease pressure, particularly the incidence of powdery mildew and botrytis, due to the increase in airflow and reduction in humidity as well as an increase in UV levels. The open canopy also allows for more effective disease prevention activities e.g. application of sprays.

- the effects of increased light and temperature also increase tannin levels in the berry skins which help them survive disease attacks but also add structure to the Pinot Noir wine.

Vines after leaf plucking. Fruit is exposed but leaving a

Vines after leaf plucking. Fruit is exposed but leaving a “verandah” leaf cover above

- this temperature/light benefit also results in increased rates of malic acid degradation which is an important step towards ripeness and also reduces levels of green unripe flavours from compounds such as methoxypyrazine.

All of these things allow us to let the fruit ripen for as long as we think is necessary and that the level of ripeness is uniform through all the fruit rather than a mix of under and over ripe fruit. Visually being able to see the fruit easily as we walk down the rows also makes it much easier to monitor the fruit and also speeds up our hand-harvesting.

Whilst this may seem like a straight forward operation it is important to not overdo it and important that it’s done soon after fruit set in order to avoid sunburnt grapes. Generally it will be carried out more on the shaded side of the canopy. The best result is achieved if the work is done by hand which allows for the variations in canopy density and row orientation to be taken into account. It also minimises any physical damage that might result from machinery bruising the fruit.

It is not the most exciting job in the vineyard so it is also important that the work is closely monitored to avoid over or under achieving!

(Olly Masters – Winemaker & Michelle Dacombe- Vineyard Manager)

Misha’s Vineyard North Island Road Trip

Posted on October 9th, 2014

Misha talks about our recent trip to some of our North Island customers.

Owner & Chef Jeff Dunstan from Domaine in Hamilton

Owner & Chef Jeff Dunstan from Domaine in Hamilton

Last year we enjoyed our road trip visiting customers around many towns of the North Island and so this year we decided to do it again! We thought we’d be a little smarter this year and instead of driving from the South Island we booked flights from Queenstown. However we forgot the unpredictability of spring weather and on our day of departure, we sat at Queenstown airport for many hours watching snowflakes and threatening clouds restricting most flight departures for the morning. Arriving in Auckland several hours later than planned, we finally picked up our rental car and started our Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Waikato wanderings.

Sonja & Andy at LQ Mt Maunganui

Sonja & Andy at LQ Mt Maunganui

Working to a very tight schedule prepared by Sonja who looks after this region for Negociants New Zealand, (our fabulous distributor), we headed off to Hamilton for our first brief stop. We did manage to fit in a dinner at a restaurant called Domaine which is run by Jeff Dunstan, who’s also the chef. It’s a great spot for enjoying some innovative food and has a small but well-chosen wine list (that we’re on of course!).

The next morning we were off, passing through the wonderful small town of Cambridge and popping in to see Andy and Nikki at the Cambridge Fine Wine Company, then by lunchtime we were in Tauranga. Our first stop there was Somerset Cottage which is run by Anne Butcher with her husband and Chef Rick. It opened in 1986 and is still going strong and operates as a cooking school as well as a restaurant. Then we went on to Mt Maunganui – Andy’s home town. During our driving around “the Mount” over the next day, Andy was reminiscing about growing up in the area, pointing out where he lived, where he’d surfed etc. “The Mount” is still a fabulous spot but these days you need a lot of cash to own a house near the beach but there are plenty of folks that do!

Tay St Breakfast - YUM

Tay St Breakfast – YUM

We had spectacular breakfast at a spot called Tay Street Beach Café which is owned by Hamish Robinson. Andy tells me it’s located where the old caravan park used to be along with the corner store – and most importantly, it was where he bought Buzz Bars when growing up – a kiwi chocolate addiction he’s never managed to kick! Hamish has done a marvellous job with this café as it has that perfect casual beachfront feel but prides itself on excellent food and a wine list which defines itself by having an amazing array of great wines by the glass! We love that!

Whilst in the area we visited various wine shops and restaurants with our last stop at Trinity Wharf Hotel. Wow – what a stunning place and what an amazing location. We were charmed by Alain Degas, Restaurant Manager, and although we were there to show him our wines, we ended up trying some of the lovely wines he’d selected for his wine list! (And yes, we do call this work!).

Thames Wine Club - what a fun team of wine enthusiasts!

Thames Wine Club – what a fun team of wine enthusiasts!

We then made a quick dash to the small town of Thames, and had little time to prepare for our first wine event of the trip at GBD Restaurant at the Junction Hotel. We weren’t sure what to expect with this wine matching evening and we became even more wary as noticed many of the guests that were seated had large glasses of Guinness in front of them – along with 7 wines glasses for the tasting! One of the guests explained to us that “Guinness was a good palate cleanser”. Well now I’ve heard everything! But you know what, that group of predominantly farmers, were just great. We had a very noisy and fun evening and everyone enjoyed our wines and ordered a record amount through our retail partner Golddiggers Thames. Thanks to Karl from GBD and Carl from Golddiggers – a great duo in putting together these wine nights for their very enthusiastic (and very unusual) wine tasting club!

Stu Simpson at the keyboard. Piano Bar, Whitianga

Stu Simpson at the keyboard. Piano Bar, Whitianga

With an early start, our final day was in and around the Coromandel peninsula with visits to Matarangi, Cooks Beach and Whitianga. I think there will be a little more Misha’s Vineyard wine drunk in the Coromandel this summer as we had great feedback on our wines and it was a pleasure to meet all the customers in this stunning part of New Zealand. So if you’re holidaying there this summer, you can find Misha’s Vineyard wines at the new Cask n Cans store in Matarangi – where Wayne “Puk” has an outstanding selection of premium New Zealand wines (in spite of the name of his store!), at Cooks Beach Liquor Store where Raewyn also has a small but lovely selection of wines, and at the Piano Bar in Whitianga where Stu might play a few notes for you while you sip a glass or two.

Andy, Misha & Gary - Tairua Goldiggers Wine Club

Andy, Misha & Gary – Tairua Goldiggers Wine Club

Our final event in the Coromandel was in the small town of Tairua where we had a Misha’s Vineyard degustation dinner at Shells restaurant organised by Gary Barker from Golddiggers Tairua for his Wine Club. This group was very serious about their wines and there was a lot of discussion, but again the feedback to our wines was amazing and I think we left Tairua with a quite a few fans.

We love visiting customers in some of the smaller cities and towns in New Zealand and look forward to next year’s North Island road trip.

Congratulations to the Sommelier, Junior Sommelier and Wine Professional of the Year!

Posted on September 21st, 2014

Sommelier OTYAndy Gladding wins New Zealand Sommelier of the Year and trip to Champagne
Facing a day of blind tastings, theory and practical assessments, including decanting red wine over a candle and opening a bottle of Champagne before the judges, Andy Gladding triumphed over his high-calibre competitors.

The New Zealand Sommelier of the Year Awards, under the direction of Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas and New Zealand School of Food and Wine director, Celia Hay, was held on Monday 15 September.

The competition is part of Auckland’s new W&F Wine and Food celebration held at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine in the Viaduct with 25 leading wineries pouring their wines and international experts presenting masterclasses on cheese, wine, olive oil and honey. The next W&F will be held in September 2015.

Andy Gladding - Sommelier of the Year 2014

Andy Gladding – Sommelier of the Year 2014

Andy was assessed with other finalists on a number of key skills including his knowledge of the world of wine, spirits and other alcohol beverages, including Sake, to his ability to write notes on 6 wines, tasted blind. Andy was also required to open a bottle of Louis Roederer Estate in front of judges, Therese Herzog, Tim Hanni MW and Master Sommelier, Cameron Douglas. Andy then decanted a bottle of red wine over a candle while answering questions from the judges.

Over this broad assessment of sommelier skills, Andy confidently demonstrated that he has a huge depth of knowledge along with outstanding practical ability. His expert customer service skills show a natural empathy with his clients and ability to listen and advise on a beverage choice based on their preferences.
Wins trip to Champagne
The New Zealand School of Food and Wine has sponsored Andy’s flight to Paris and Champagne Louis Roederer will then host him at this family owned estate. Louise Roederer’s New Zealand distributor, Eurovintage will then facilitate Andy’s visit to other French Estates in their portfolio.

Andy Gladding is Beverage Manager at leading Auckland restaurant, The French Café where he has worked since 2011. “Andy is an incredibly passionate, hard working and dedicated member of The French Café and we personally could not think of anyone more deserving,” comments French Café owner, Creghan Molloy-Wright.

There are three awards in the competition, NZ Sommelier of the Year, Junior Sommelier of the Year and Young New Zealand Wine professional of the Year. The other winners are:

The Winners - Oliver Carr, Alexis Robin and Andy Gladding.

The Winners – Oliver Carr, Alexis Robin and Andy Gladding.

Junior Sommelier of the Year
Oliver Carr
Currently working part-time in hospitality, while studying winemaking at Lincoln University, Oliver wins a tour of the Central Otago wine region as guest of Misha’s Vineyard.

Young New Zealand Wine Professional of the Year
Alexis Robin

Orginially from France, Alexis is based in Central Otago. His prize is being part of Herzog Estate’s Harvest Weekend in and vintage at Yealands Wines in Marlborough, April 2015.

About the Wine and Food Celebration
The New Zealand Wine and Food Event is an annual two-day public event in Auckland comprising a showcase of New Zealand and international wine, cooking workshops and master classes. In 2014 these included presentations by US-based Master of Wine Tim Hanni and renowned cheese expert Juliet Harbutt. The event is organised by Celia Hay’s New Zealand School of Food and will run again from September 13, 2015 at their premises in Auckland’s Viaduct .

For more information contact
Contact: Celia Hay, Director, New Zealand School of Food and Wine
021 981 947

Michelle Dacombe – First week thoughts..

Posted on August 8th, 2014

Welcome to Michelle – our new Vineyard Manager at Misha’s Vineyard. Michelle shares her thoughts after week one!

Michelle Dacombe_Vineyard Manager_Misha's Vineyard_Aug 2014My first week at Misha’s Vineyard started on a Monday where I met the vineyard crew and learned a little about my new surroundings. I was able to join in on the last of the pruning in the Top Block (which is all Pinot Noir) and enjoyed a fine day of sunshine. On Tuesday I attended the Otago Polytech to get a Growsafe certification, then it was back to the vineyard on Wednesday for rock removals!

Yes, we’re currently removing rocks from the Lakefront block which so far has never had any rocks removed since this part of the vineyard was planted – so it’s a big task but necessary before we can get the sweeper and mulcher down the rows to clean up the winter prunings. Then we’ll carry on removing rocks down the Ski Slope (where the Sauvignon Blanc is grown) and another block of Pinot Noir.

Thursday saw a fair bit of rain but that gave me time to duck into the shed in the morning and get familiar with all the gear. After lunch we headed into Dress Circle and finished the last of the pruning of the Pinot Gris. In fact we have just one-third of the Ski Slope Sauvignon Blanc left to prune, and that will be it for 2014!

A few of the rocks that appear on the vineyard

A few of the rocks that appear on the vineyard

Friday was looking promising despite the forecast for all of about 45 minutes. Before we could blink a quick moving southerly front came through dusting the vineyard with snow. We thought we could sit it out, but it kept on coming, so the crew got a reprieve and an early weekend. I must admit it was a great day for watching the squally snow showers pass through the valley, especially from inside an office.

My first observations of the vineyard have me looking up. Anyone who has visited this site knows what a spectacular view there is from anywhere on the vineyard. I’m feeling especially spoiled at the moment. I have also been struck with a great sense of positivity from the team here. The vineyard crew are full of smiles, enjoy one another’s company and seem genuinely pleased to be here. Their experience on this site will be invaluable to me as the growing season begins. I’ve got Ian to help me study up the irrigation system, Aaron to give me a few lessons on the tractors here and Sue is the ‘go to’ lady in the vineyard having been here the longest. I hope that I will be able to bring my own positivity to the mix and to try a few new things. I’d like to start with sowing some cover crops into the grass sward this spring. I’m thinking a mix of plants to help open up the soils and build organic matter, which in turn will allow the soils to hold more air and water.

Sue - Pruning

Sue – Pruning

The most important thing may be to start drinking a few more wines after work….after all it’s important to know exactly what we want to achieve here on the vineyard so that it can be translated into the wines.

This season will obviously be bringing me challenges as it’s my first role as a manager, but I am very much looking forward to the new experiences in growing different varieties than I have in the past. I’m especially excited about growing Gewurztraminer and looking forward to tasting this vintage’s late harvest. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my nose down looking at the soil and thinking of ways to improve an already great vineyard.

Auckland Rotary Taste Misha’s Vineyard wines at FWDC

Posted on May 21st, 2014

Set up for a Tasting_FWDC April 2014 25987We work closely with the owners and staff at the Fine Wine Delivery Company (FWDC) – we love the team there. In fact, owners, Jeff and Virginia Poole, have a lot to do with why we now own a vineyard! One of the sales team, Joseph, had a regular customer (who’s a member of Rotary) enquire if it would be possible to hold a casual evening for some of the members of her branch of Rotary who didn’t know a lot about wine but were keen to learn.

Joseph arranged a evening on the main floor of Fine Wine Delivery Company’s large and stylish premises and chose the range of Misha’s Vineyard wines to take the group through “because I think there is a wonderful story behind the winery and team and each of the wines is a very honest expression of each varietal”. Gosh – thanks Joseph. As Joseph explained, he had enjoyed the Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner at which Andy had hosted at FWDC a few months earlier and had loved the stories and the wines.

Set up for a Tasting_FWDC April 2014 35909The tasting went well with each of the wines having their own little fan base. “At the end people were almost arguing about which was the best – there was a couple who were absolutely raving about the Riesling. The Pinot Gris seemed to be the winner of the night though” says Joseph. “A man even took home a dozen”!

So everyone learned about tasting wine, tried a range of different varietals, discovered a little about Misha’s Vineyard and some even went home with a few extra bottles for some further education later!

Thanks for hosting the group Joseph and also for choosing Misha’s Vineyard range of wines! We love the support of the team at FWDC.

Misha’s Vineyard Heads to UK, Denmark & Sweden

Posted on April 13th, 2014

PLB Group Wine Buying Manager Neville Harris with Andy

PLB Group Wine Buying Manager Neville Harris with Andy

For most of March, we were in Europe working with two of our new distributors, PLB Group in the UK and Gastro-Wine in Denmark and Sweden.

Our first stop was the UK with Andy heading straight to Scotland for the first leg of the trade tour with our distributor, whilst I skipped the last flight sector and instead stopped off in London to spend a day with PLB’s on-trade man on the ground Nico Kowalski! We received fantastic feedback on the wines over the course of the day and it was great way to get some early restaurant listings!

Our new UK distributor, PLB Group, which is the largest independent family wine business in the UK, has been putting a lot of effort into expanding their portfolio to ensure the on-trade and independent retail customers were well taken care of by adding new premium wine brands and ensuring they have the right team to focus in this area. We were delighted last year when the PLB revamped their New Zealand offering and announced Misha’s Vineyard as part of their portfolio. However things didn’t start until the PLB Roadshow in March of this year which was an opportunity to showcase all the new wine ranges from UK in a series of their own tasting events.

Misha has a short time without tasters at the Manchester tasting!

Misha has a short time without tasters at the Manchester tasting!

Andy handled the Edinburgh leg of the PLB tour on the 4th March we met in Manchester for the second event at a wonderful venue – the People’s History Museum! After another great day of tastings, it was a long bus ride with the PLB team down to London to get ready for the third and final leg of the tour. The final day in London was at a stunning venue called One Great George Street, in the heart of Wesminster! At all three locations the feedback on our wines was just fabulous and there were many visitors tweeting about our wines being one of the highlights of the tasting event! It’s nice to get that sort of feedback especially when you’re with a new distributor – needless to say, the PLB team were all smiles as well! We had a final celebratory end-of-tour evening with the PLB team and all the wineries at the Cinnamon Club – a fantastic night! That wasn’t it for the UK, the next morning we had scheduled a full morning of Misha’s Vineyard training for all the PLB sales team in a private room at Davy’s – one of their customers. We finished with a lunch at Davy’s and promised the PLB team we’d be back later in the year!

The Misha's Vineyard wine dinner at Copenhagen's Madsvinet restaurant

The Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner at Copenhagen’s Madsvinet restaurant

Next stop on our trip was Denmark – and it was Andy’s first visit to the country! We love Denmark – such an easy-going place with incredibly friendly people. Our distributor here is a new division of a company that’s a specialist importer called C&E Gastro-Imports, who have been in business for 25 years. Founded by Erik Nielsen, Gastro-Import has over 1400 specialist gourmet food products from France, Italy and Spain and they distribute those products to specialist retailers and restaurants in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Erik has now established Gastro-Wine, and now sourcing premium wines from artisan producers around the world.

Training the team at Gastro Wines in Denmark

Training the team at Gastro Wines in Denmark

Gastro-Wine has set up a special cellar/tasting room in the heart of Copenhagen where we held various trade dinners and tasting events. It’s a great space and we discovered the products that Gastro-Imports has, are wonderful products to pair with our wines! We also hosted a fabulous wine dinner at a restaurant called Madsvinet (literally ‘food pig’ but I’m assured it sounds better in Danish) where some of our current trade customers, plus some other invited trade folks attending for a great evening of inventive food matches by Chef Rolf!

From Denmark, we flew to Sweden and straight to the Gastro-Imports office just out of Stockholm. The office/workshop also has a full kitchen and we were able to have a dinner for 25 trade guests within the office! Their office is conveniently located next door to the Scandinavian Wine Academy and owners Dick and Britta Samuelsson also attended our wine dinner. Then Andy and I headed off in our rental car and drove 6 hours south through forests of Sweden (with me sleeping most of the way) to find Kosta – a small town close to nowhere! Smaland, one of Sweden’s large provinces, is a region is dominated by huge forests – something that was important back in 1742 when glass started being made in this region, as the glassworks needed a lot of wood to for the furnaces! It has become the glass-blowing capital of Sweden and some of the famous names of glass include Orrefors and of course Kosta Boda.

Misha & Andy with Dragan Unic at the amazing Glass Bar at Kosta Boda Art Hotel

Misha & Andy with Dragan Unic at the amazing Glass Bar at Kosta Boda Art Hotel

Our destination was the Kosta Boda Art Hotel, where one of Gastro-Wines former employees, Dragan Unic had gone to head up F&B at the hotel and was keen to have the first New Zealand wine dinner there! We were treated to a lovely room at the amazing hotel and a guided tour by Dragan. We started our Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner in the glass bar of the hotel where literally everything was made of glass – quite an amazing feat – and then we moved into the restaurant for a degustation dinner. We were delighted to hear the chef Andrew was an Australia, who had lived in Sweden for many years. He proved his skills during the night with exquisite food served on the most superb array of glass plates!

After a very successful wine dinner (which we learned people had driven 3 hours to attend!), we drove to Helsingborg on the west coast of Sweden to meet up with some more of the Gastro team located there, including the MD of the Sweden operations, Andreas. Then we jumped on a train for the short trip back to Copenhagen. But it was not over – Erik and Christoffer had more activities planned for us – training of the Danish Gastro-Imports team, a tour of their Denmark facility and another wine dinner at the Copenhagen tasting room.

Finally finished with the work side of things, Andy and I had a couple of days to explore Copenhagen which we really enjoyed! We also had a final lunch with Erik and Chris from Gastro-Wine at the Danish Design Museum (who is now also a customer) which was just amazing!

After such a busy schedule, we were ready to return home but we had added a final stop to our European tour – to The Netherlands where we stayed with old friends. We are working on finding a distributor in The Netherlands so did a little work to try and make this happen – fingers crossed. Our return sector to New Zealand was a long one – and included a daytime in Singapore which we put to good use to meet with Crystal Wines, our Singapore distributor. But when we arrived back in Queenstown, we realised it had been 48 hours since we’d left The Netherlands. Exhausted? – you just can’t imagine!

Some of the Recent Visitors to Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on April 13th, 2014

Although we don’t operate a cellar door, we still have quite a few visitors to Misha’s Vineyard. And they’re never short visits – the shortest being at least a couple of hours and the longest – a week!

Our office is in Cromwell (behind our house) and our vineyard is about 10 minutes away at Bendigo. Well actually once you take into account the 3km long driveway and the various gates, it’s more like 15 mins trip. If we have a visitor who wants to see the vineyard (and that generally means a trade or media visitor), they come to our office and we put them in one of our four-wheel drive vehicles and then head up to the vineyard.

US Wine Blogger Blake Grey tries a Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir.

US Wine Blogger Blake Grey tries a Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Our tour usually starts from a lookout above our top vineyard block which provides the best view of vineyard (although you still can’t see all of it from there) but it’s also a great place to view Cromwell Basin where 70% of the grapes are grown in this region. Then we head down into the mid levels of the vineyard and usually stop at the top of ski slope as the view down the slope and to the lake is incredibly dramatic. We often make our visitors walk down ski slope so they really understand why our pickers only pick downhill on this slope and then get bussed up to the top of the hill to pick downhill again. We then show various spots on the vineyard depending on people’s interest but usually finish in our old gold miner ruins on the top block where we talk about the land’s Chinese history. Our estate is 57 hectares so there’s quite a bit to see on the tour!

We’ve had some interesting visitors so far this year including San Francisco-based W. Blake Grey who’s a well-regarded independent writer, winning the Roederer Award for Best Online Wine Writer. He publishes The Gray Report and contributes to many publications and sites. Our introduction to Blake was at dinner at Two Paddocks who was hosting him for an evening and Jacqui Murphy kindly invited us along. We had a great time over dinner and got to know Blake, making our vineyard visit with him the following day very relaxed!

Terry Mulligan and Andy do a sun salute on the hill overlooking the vineyard (Pic - Chris So)

Terry Mulligan and Andy do a sun salute on the hill overlooking the vineyard (Pic – Chris So)

We also hosted the affable Terry Mulligan who’s a Vancouver-based host and producer of Tasting Room Radio – a one hour weekly program about food, wine and winemakers and also co-hosts a show about wine called “Hollywood and Wines”. Terry was delightful and was visiting New Zealand to specifically focus on sustainability so wanted to learn about what programs we run on the vineyard in support of our sustainability goals.

Some of the things Terry was interested in on the vineyard were:

Project Gold – our involvement in the planting of native gold kowhais – which used to be prevalent in Central Otago before the land was stripped of natives for grazing land a century and a half ago
Recycling winery waste – to produce compost which increases the organic composition of our soils – we blend the grape marc with straw and sheep manure from under the shearing shed of Bendigo Station, to make our compost – and this has increased our worm population too.
Cover crops – we have an interrow planting program to help bind our fragile soils, and increase OM (organic matter) in our soils through careful selection of deep rooted grasses. This also increases the beneficial insects to the vineyard

We had fun doing the radio interviews with Terry – and he commented he’d taped more than he normally does! (Was that a polite way of saying I talk too much? )

Chris So at the "Magpies" pre-harvest party at Quartz Reef winery.

Chris So at the “Magpies” pre-harvest party at Quartz Reef winery.

We have also had Chris So from Hong Kong stay with us for a week. Chris visited us for a couple of days last year and wanted to return this year to hone up on his viticulture and early winemaking knowledge as that’s the topic of his 4th and final MW exam which he will sit in June. Having passed his Master of Wine Practical exam (ie 3 blind tastings), and 3 out of 4 of his theory exams, he doesn’t have too many hurdles to jump before his final dissertation/research paper and hopefully the reward of an MW title!

Chris joined us at the end of March and was hoping we would have started the harvest – but alas, it was still too early. So Chris spent a couple of days with Rudi Bauer at Quartz Reef who picks Pinot Noir earlier than many other vineyards in order to make his sparkling wines. Chris also spent a few days with Olly, our winemaker, at the vineyard tasting grapes for many hours and understanding what Olly was looking for in terms of flavour development and how he determined the picking schedule. He also had the opportunity of helping Olly with the final blends of our various 2013 vintage Pinot Noirs and really enjoyed that! We wish Chris the best of luck for his 4th Master of Wine theory exam!

Judy & Richard

Judy & Richard

We’ve had various other trade visitors so far this year but we did also enjoy a visit by Judy and Richard – a couple we met at the South Island Food & Wine Festival a couple of years back who tried our wines there and have become very big fans and were really keen to see the vineyard. They were in the area on a short holiday so we took them up the vineyard and gave them the full tour and they were delighted! It really is a spectacular location.

I wish we were able to show more people our piece of paradise but when we’re out on the vineyard doing tours, there’s no one in the office doing the sales and marketing activities! So we’ll just have to keep posting lots of photos of the vineyard and give people a ‘virtual experience’!

Unveiling the New Vintages from Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on March 15th, 2014

Our basement setting at Mandarin Dumpling

Our subterranean basement private dining room setting at Mandarin Dumpling

In February, we unveiled our latest vintages – our 2013 aromatic white wines, our 2010 The High Note Pinot Noir and 2012 Impromptu by Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 7 wines in all. It was our 6th Annual Misha’s Vineyard New Release Tasting – and it’s certainly now become a regular event that everyone looks forward to. These days we just host the events in Auckland as most of the wine media is there, it’s where many of our trade customers are based, and it’s also where our distributor, Negociants NZ, has their NZ headquarters.

For the first 4 years of our ‘new release’ media events we hosted lunches at The Grove. It’s one of the country’s best restaurants and owner and chief sommelier, Michael Dearth, ensures things

Mandarin Dumpling Menu

Mandarin Dumpling Menu

work seamlessly and match perfectly. However in the past two years, we’ve ventured out of the ‘safe’ harbour of western food matches and moved in a more easterly direction! Last year our new release event was held at Cafe Hanoi – a downtown Auckland restaurant renowned for its Vietnamese food. We had fun with the food matches and generally everything worked brilliantly. This year, we went Chinese and descended into Mandarin Dumpling and Bar for some seriously good modern Chinese food. Both last year and this year, our venues were dark and moody subterranean basements with Mandarin’s private dining space resembling an old opium den.

After lunch at Mandarin Dumpling

After lunch at Mandarin Dumpling

We sent samples of all the new releases off to Mandarin a few weeks prior to the events and we let the kitchen team come up with what they thought would be the best food matches – and we weren’t disappointed! I think we surprised many of our guests with how well the food went with the wine. Given we have so many export markets around the various countries in Asia, we know how well our aromatic white wines and Pinot Noirs can match exotic food flavours of the East. Mandarin describes their food as “fiercely spicy or elegantly subtle’ – and they found perfect wine partners for both ends of the spectrum and a range in between!

Discussion during the media lunch

Discussion during the media lunch

As well as hosting a media only event, over the last couple of years, we have also extended these ‘new release’ events to include trade lunches and we had a lovely group of customers join us to learn a little more about the Misha’s Vineyard story and to hear Olly talk about how he crafts the wines and about the new vintages.

After the events, we also spent some one-on-one time with two of New Zealand’s best known and most acclaimed wine critics, Bob Campbell MW and Michael Cooper, so Olly could take them through the new wines and talk about the technicalities of winemaking and vintage specifics. We’re constantly amazed at how hard-working and focussed both Bob and Michael are – both incredibly professional yet imbued with that typical Kiwi casualness and calm.

Next we were out to the Negociants NZ office to go through a Misha’s Vineyard update and to take the team through the new vintages. What we love about our distributor Negociants, is their incredible professionalism as a company. They have a wonderful meeting room at their Greenlane office and that’s where we present our formal powerpoint update about our company news and updates, and then Olly takes the team through each of the new wines, discussing them in detail as we go.

Judging by the looks on everyone’s faces at all our new release events, I don’t think anyone is disappointed with the new vintages – in fact quite the opposite. Olly will never say it’s the best vintage yet, he’s too understated for that, but judging from the media reviews coming in from the new vintages, it seems some people think it’s the best ‘new release’ yet!

Misha’s Vineyard on Australia’s East Coast

Posted on March 14th, 2014

We always love visiting the trade in Australia and we had an especially great time at the end of January in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and a day on the Gold Coast. We were very well looked after by our wonderful Australian distributor, Fesq & Co, and the sales team ensured we had absolutely no free time whilst there – which is perfect as we were there to work and conduct tastings with as many of the retail and restaurant trade as we possibly could!

Romy from Camperdown Cellars-Darlinghurst

Romy from Camperdown Cellars-Darlinghurst

We started with a couple of busy trade days in Sydney and Andy and I were out with different sales reps to maximise our time but then we all joined up in the evening with the Fesq sales and marketing team for dinner at the wonderful Aki’s Indian restaurant on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf. Aki’s has an extensive wine list and offers Misha’s Vineyard ‘The High Note’ Pinot Noir by the glass. (Thanks to Sommelier Harshal Shah). After another busy day in the trade on the Friday, Andy and I then conducted evening in-store tastings at The Sackville Hotel in Rozelle and at Porters Pyrmont and it was great to see some friends from Sydney (from many years ago) come along to support us! Andy and I also held a joint tasting at Camperdown Cellars in Darlinghurst on the Saturday afternoon– and in spite of it being a long weekend (Australia Day) we won a few more fans that day! Thanks to the wonderful Sydney Fesq sales team of Andy Fay, who heads the team, and also Rose Pinto, Mathew Ede, Daniel Jacobson, and Adam Cox.

Dave & Jeremy from Jeremy's

Dave & Jeremy from Jeremy’s

The following week we hit Melbourne hard and again Andy and I separated and made about 8 account calls each over a couple of days! On the first evening we hosted a trade dinner at the very cool Northern Light Bar & Eatery, in Smith St, Collingwood. We had a lot of fun and kicked on later in the evening than intended but judging from the pictures from that night, everyone had a fun time! Joe Caruso leads the Fesq sales team and he has a great group of reps – Shane Beer, Brad Partridge, and the camera-shy Tim Vance (not!).
Sarah from Urbane

Sarah from Urbane

Then it was off to Brisbane where it was great to catch up with some familiar faces from previous visits including Kiwi gal Sarah Ramwell who’s at Urbane and Brent from Wine Emporium, a fabulous wine retail store who are big fans of our wines. It was nice to meet Stacy Holmes on this trip – he’s the Cellar Master from Brisbane’s Tattersalls Club – and he loved our Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris. In fact he decided to offer our Pinot Gris by the glass, and he’s since emailed me to say it’s been a huge success at the Club which is great to hear.

Andrew at Bacchus

Andrew at Bacchus

We then headed off to the Gold Coast and had a very productive day with Brett Curry from Fesq, who, in spite of it being a Friday (and not usually a great day to visit the trade), managed to set us up with some great appointments that have ended up with us winning some new fans! We hadn’t been to the Gold Coast for many years and I was surprised at how things had changed there. There are some wonderful restaurants and we’re looking forward to returning and perhaps hosting a wine dinner or two there!

And by the way, we did actually did manage to squeeze in a couple of social things – including a night under the stars at the St George Open Air Cinema with the Sydney Opera House in the background which was simply marvellous and thanks to our wonderful friend Annabelle for organising that, and we also managed to catch up with some family and friends! Can’t wait for our next trip!

Misha’s January 2013/February 2014 feature in Wine Business Magazine

Posted on March 13th, 2014

Wish Across the Ditch! WBM Cover  Dec 2013

Our Sauvignon Blanc flag is flying high as we sail boldly into 2014. There’s no denying our single minded focus has held us in good stead and we’ve continued to outpace others across the world, but as we round the midway mark in this season’s race, there’s noticeable nervousness in some quarters as to what may lay ahead if we continue to follow the same course. As well as continuing concerns about New Zealand being a one-trick pony there’s anxiety about the potential size of the 2014 harvest, especially after Marlborough increased production last year by a huge 33 percent which resulted in a 28 percent increase nationally. The coming year also presents some challenges with an ever-increasing anti-alcohol lobby and unfavourable exchange rates with key export markets.

This month Misha talks to some key people in the New Zealand wine industry, including Steve Smith MW (Craggy Range), Neal Ibbotson (Saint Clair), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and Bob Campbell MW (Wine Writer), to find out what’s on their minds and what they’re wishing for in the coming year.

To read the full article download the PDF version below.

Wish Across the Ditch!- Download PDF

Misha’s feature “Across the ditch” with stories of interest to the New Zealand wine industry are published in Wine Business Magazine each month.

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