New Zealand Wine Society is fortunate to work closely with incredibly dedicated growers and winemakers; women who have mastered the art and science of transforming grapes into the wonderful drink we love.
Why did you get into wine making?
I have been excited about NZ wine since the early ’80s when on business trips to Queenstown I used to call into Chard Farm do a tasting of their latest wines and get my wine supplies sent to me. These were the very early days of Central Otago wine and I was already a convert to drinking the wine of the region’s pioneers. When the Mt Pisa area proved to be ideal for growing a range of wines we jumped at the chance to buy a sheep farm and begin the conversion to a vineyard.
What is your favourite part about wine making?
I’m astounded by the sheer magic of the season as the vines wake up after winter until they end up carrying the maximum load of fruit that can ripen easily - all in a matter of a few months. Then it’s game on. Life is never boring. We are making wine on the very fringes of what is possible and working with extremes all the time.
What is your favourite wine to make?
All our our varieties are so different and they all have their mysteries, but each Pinot Noir vintage has its own story of how we dealt with the season's challenges. Currently this is the wettest season we've experiences, but the vines look good and are carrying some lovely fruit.
Is there a story behind the name of the wine?
Ata Mara means “Morning Garden” and there are three important elements to the name – a tribute to my father who was a professional horticulturist and botanist in the Southland and Otago region, the vineyard faces the morning sun and we get the best of the rising and setting sun each day, and the name translates well into Maori – we are quintessentially a grown, made and bottled in Central Otago, New Zealand. The Maori component of our name was given to us by Ngai Tahu, the tribe that is resident in the South Island. We have chosen the Kakabeek flower and tree as our emblem and every bottle has this motif on it. It’s indigenous to New Zealand and therefore unique.
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
Right now I think my favourite thing would be to sit on a beach and read a book until it is finished!