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.

To subscribe to WBM – click here

Misha’s November Feature in Wine Business Magazine

Posted on February 13th, 2014

Be RelentlessWBM Cover  Nov 2013

The most crucial element in building your business and your brand is marketing – it’s the one constant which starts even before you take your first step in business and continues every day your business is operating. New Zealand is a nation of small businesses – in fact over 97% of business enterprises have fewer than 20 employees. One of the problems of small businesses, particularly those which are agricultural-based as so many New Zealand businesses are, is the company’s main expertise is at the production end. This certainly applies to many wineries who excel as winemakers and/or as viticulturalists but who generally don’t have that same level of excellence when it comes to marketing and brand-building. Marketing is one of the most misunderstood disciplines within small businesses and people often use the term when they really mean selling – but they’re very different!

Misha draws from her background in corporate marketing, her formal marketing training, but most importantly her journey in establishing a wine brand and provides some suggestions on marketing and building a wine brand.

To read the full article download the PDF version below.

Be Relentless – 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.

To subscribe to WBM – click here

Misha’s Vineyard Gains Top Accolades

Posted on January 19th, 2014

Misha looks back at some of the accolades we achieved last year

Click to enlarge chart

Click to enlarge chart

The end of 2013 saw many of Misha’s Vineyard wines getting top accolades and we made it to a few ‘top wines of the year’ lists by several wine critics. The fact is we’re coming up to our 8th vintage on the vineyard and our wines continue to evolve – both the older wines are tasting better (if you can find an older vintage) and our newest vintages are really impressing people even as young wines.

In November, the latest New Zealand report came out from Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Editor-in-Chief of Robert M Parker Jr’s Wine Advocate, the world’s leading wine publication (which is also online at For the past 5 years, Lisa has taken on the role of being the chief reviewer for Australian and New Zealand wines and has made many visits to both countries and reviewed thousands of wines.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW tastes through the wines with Olly

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW tastes through the wines with Olly

No other international wine title has put the focus and energy on New Zealand wines as much as Wine Advocate and the regional reports and wine reviews reflect Lisa’s detailed knowledge and understanding of the country’s wines and the various wine styles. We were delighted to see across our entire range that we were either the highest rated or within the top 2 or 3 scores of all the New Zealand wines rated (respective of vintage). We were also delighted to see our Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Pinot Noir score 93+ points – equal to that elite group of New Zealand’s most celebrated Pinot Noirs with ‘The High Note’ 2010 scoring just one point less at 92+. Other highlights included having The Starlet as the 2nd highest rated Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, and The Gallery the highest rated Gewürztraminer – both varieties grown in very small volume in the Central Otago region, so it’s nice to be able to get recognition for these varieties too.

Rebecca Gibb, unmistakingly from the north-east of England, now resides in New Zealand and has launched her own website recently. She won the UK’s Young Wine Writer of the Year in 2006 and then joined the UK wine trade magazine, Harpers, and went on to become its features editor. As a freelancer, she wrote for such prestigious titles as Decanter and Wine Business International and since 2012 she’s been the editor at Having passed 2 parts of her Masters of Wine exam, she only has one dissertation to go before joining the elite group of MWs. In late December, Rebecca published “My Top 10 NZ Reds of the Year” – and we were delighted that our 2010 Misha’s Vineyard ‘The High Note’ Pinot Noir made the cut! Thanks Rebecca!

Raymond Chan

Raymond Chan

Another of New Zealand’s highly respected key wine reviewers is Wellington based Raymond Chan who published his report of the top rated wineries of 2013. We were delighted to be named as one of the Outstanding Producers of 2013 on Raymond’s list. Less than 20 wineries were named in his report of the top wineries, so when you consider there are 700 wineries in New Zealand, it’s great honour to be included in this group.

Raymond also published his top 20 wines of the year and it was nice to see our Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Gallery’ Gewurztraminer 2012 on the list – in fact it was the only wine from Central Otago on the list!

In Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014, we had some fantastic reviews. We were pretty pleased with 4 of the wines getting a 5 star rating. The highlights from Cooper’s scores and comments were:

5 stars – Misha’s Vineyard ‘Dress Circle’ Pinot Gris 2012. “…It’s the best vintage yet’!
5 stars – Misha’s Vineyard ‘Lyric’ Riesling 2012. “This is the sort of dry Riesling New Zealand needs a lot more of…”
5 stars – Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Gallery’ Gewurztraminer 2012 “..Fleshy, rich and harmonious, it’s a drink-now or cellaring proposition”
5 stars – Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Pinot Noir 2010 “…an outstanding vintage…powerful, dense red, still very youthful, it’s sure to be long-lived..”
4.5 stars – Misha’s Vineyard ‘Limelight’ Riesling 2012 “…The instantly appealing 2012 vintage..”

Michael Cooper’s new guide is available in all bookstores and newsagents or you can subscribe online at

Reviews from wine journalists are important as it’s an important way of getting objective feedback on one’s wines. A lot of producers enter wine shows which is another way of getting one’s wine assessed but we had made it a policy of not doing wine shows. However we decided that since we were coming up to the 8th vintage, that it would be nice to also do some international benchmarking. We submitted one wine, the Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Pinot Noir 2010 into one show – the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London – the largest and most prestigious wine show it the world. The wine was awarded an Outstanding Gold (which is only awarded at the judge’s discretion) and it was the only New Zealand Pinot Noir to achieve this level with only one other Pinot Noir from Oregon achieving this. Our ‘Verismo’ 2010 has also garnered some amazing reviews of the year including:

• 96/100 – “Very classy wine with excellent cellaring potential” – Bob Campbell, Gourmet Traveller Wine
• 97/100 –“This is one of the most profound pinots from New Zealand I’ve tried.” Sam Kim, Wine Orbit

Olly & Rich discuss the season

Olly & Rich discuss the season

So we’ve had some amazing successes across the board with our wines. We are so happy we planted aromatic white wines as well as Pinot Noir as those varietals do so well in our bony rocky soils. Central Otago is really a special place given you can craft not only Pinot Noir into world-acclaimed wine but also Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. And we can’t forget, it’s not just our special location that’s making great wines, but we have a vineyard manager, Rich Williams, who is meticulous in ensuring all 65,000 vines are happy and healthy and who treats the vines as ‘his girls’ and a winemaker, Olly Masters, who is one of the most gifted winemakers in New Zealand.

Misha’s Vineyard Celebrates Summer with Festivals

Posted on January 16th, 2014

Food & Wine Festivals, along with a charity golf event (which we sponsored) and the biggest horseracing event on the local calendar. Misha looks back at the Summer of Festivals!

Misha's Vineyard - wine sponsor for the Cure Kids Charity Golf at The Hills. What a stunning location!

Misha’s Vineyard – wine sponsor for the Cure Kids Charity Golf at The Hills. What a stunning location!

Misha’s Vineyard was a key wine sponsor of the 2013 Hills Cure Kids Open at The Hills golf course in Arrowtown – a spectacular championship level golf course decorated with amazing art and features. Over the weekend, the guest golfers consumed only Misha’s Vineyard wines and they consumed a lot – in fact we had to do a fast dash to the warehouse to replenish the many bottles of Pinot Noir that were consumed on the first evening! Cure Kids is a wonderful charity and does a lot of fund raising across New Zealand to fund research into children’s diseases. We’ve had an association with them since ‘Shrek’ — a sheep who had escaped muster for six years was eventually found at Bendigo Station, just above our vineyard. ‘Shrek’, so named as he was a huge woolly creature when discovered, went on to become a national icon in New Zealand with all the money earned from his appearances, books, etc going to the Cure Kids charity. With our location in the Bendigo sub-region it’s nice to maintain the link that Cure Kids has had with Bendigo Station.

ill Massey (our Admin Manager) enjoys a day at the Cromwell races with partner Bill.

Jill Massey (our Admin Manager) enjoys a day at the Cromwell races with partner Bill.

On the first day of summer, the Misha’s Vineyard team had a small marquee for Christmas at The Races – a country horseracing event in Cromwell – and we invited some key trade guests as well. We had a great afternoon (and it was even better for those who picked the winning horses) and we even watched a sheep race! Yes, only in New Zealand would you have sheep race up the main straight with a cheering crowd on the sides and team of shouting shepherds keeping the mob running! It was good to have a social day with our team which has 2 new full time members who’ve joined recently. Aaron how has taken on the tractor driver role navigating our steep hills, and Ian is now part of our permanent vineyard team and our irrigation specialist. We also had the current casual vineyard crew who come from from many different nations join us as well. Some had never seen horse racing before so it was quite an experience!

Some Misha's Vineyard wine fans ad South Island Wine & Food Festival

Some Misha’s Vineyard wine fans ad South Island Wine & Food Festival

The following weekend, Andy, Jill and I drove up to Christchurch to participate in the South Island Food & Wine Festival! Although it’s just about the busiest day we have all year, we look forward to it as we meet so many people who love our wines! Located in Hagley Park, the Festival draws around 8,000 people and once the gates open at 11 we don’t stop pouring wines until 7pm – and barely take a break during that time! This Festival has become one of our key local activities as it gives us a chance to chat to many of our fans and hopefully win some new ones!

In the build up to Christmas, Misha’s Vineyard had a virtual cellar door at the Fine Wine Delivery Company in Auckland for two weeks where we brought the Misha’s Vineyard experience to some of our fans in the big smoke! As well as Andy and Olly manning our ‘virtual’ cellar door, Andy also hosted a food and wine evening at the beautiful new premises of the Fine Wine Delivery Company with food prepared by Michelin Star Chef Philip Reynolds, and shared some of the stories of Misha’s Vineyard with customers.

Misha's Vineyard in the Cellar Door section of Fine wine Delivery Company

Misha’s Vineyard in the Cellar Door section of Fine wine Delivery Company

Then in the first days of the new year, we did another wine festival – this time in our own local town. The Old Cromwell Food & Wine Festival was another huge success. It was our second year of participation and I think it will be a regular event for us. Given we don’t have a cellar door open to the public, it’s a great opportunity to meet all the locals and let them taste the wines. We had another very busy day but we were helped by one of our casual vineyard team, Tom, who used to run a wine shop back in the UK. We made good use of his skills all through the sunny (but sometimes windy) afternoon.

Although we had a very busy Christmas period, and we were receiving export orders right up to the day before Christmas, we did manage a few days at the beach north of Dunedin to chill out before what will probably be our busiest year yet! I just know 2014 is going to flash by and in no time, we’ll be getting ready for the summer wine festivals all over again!