Waiheke Island is one of my favourite New Zealand wine destinations and I’m pleased to introduce you today to a winemaker who works at one of the top vineyards on the island: Meet Chloe Somerset, Winemaker at Cable Bay.
Hi Chloe, thanks a lot for your time, let’s get into it…
What does a typical working day look like for you?
The single best thing about being a winemaker is the diversity the role brings. My colleagues often joke about how no two of my days are the same.
One day I might be out in the vineyard, tasting ripening grapes and making the decision when to pick them, another I might be driving around on a forklift, or doing barrel work, or kicking about in the trade showing our wines, or judging, or sitting at a computer sussing out vineyard management plans for the coming season… it’s always different and that’s what I love.
When and why did you fall in love with wine?
I think the definitive moment when I went from liking wine to loving it, was during my first vintage in Burgundy, and we were tasting a range of wines from different vineyards situated right next door to each other. Each one had a fundamental thread of resemblance but at the same time so widely different. They each sung their own tune.
That was an epic moment of realisation – terroir – that traceability aspect of wine is what makes it so intriguing.
Why did you become a winemaker?
I grew up on a beef and sheep farm in the Waikato. I loved working on the farm, and I developed a real appreciation for the food industry.
I initially was drawn to the grape growing side of things, but soon realised that growing and making go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other, so decided to specialise in both fields.
I think the real attraction to winemaking was the ability to be able to create something with my hands.
If you were a wine, which one would you be?
What’s your signature wine?
Waiheke Island Syrah.
Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Vin Jaune with 20 month Comté or Crustaceans with Assyrtiko.
Share a fact about yourself that only a few know
For want of a better work story, here goes!
I got lost in Istanbul in the middle of the night, trying to find my friend and our accommodation. I asked a few people on the street for direction and was put astray – I could feel there was something dodgy about them so decided to discredit their directions. I found a local butcher down a side street in his little lean-to shop butchering a whole sheep carcass in the open air with one helluva knife; against all odds I had a gut feeling he would be the best person to entrust to show me the right way.
Half an hour later, having followed him through the streets with my backpack on my back, wondering if we were in fact going to the right place, we arrived on point, and there was my friend. Trust your gut!!
Hidden gems and favourite spots on Waiheke
Aperitivo. It’s a beautiful little wine bar in Oneroa – my absolute fav.
Things you still want to do – what’s on your bucket list?
I am dying to go to Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa. The mish mash of cultures and convergence of musical influence from Africa, Brazil, Lusitania and France is just beautiful.
Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Len Evans, for sure!
We’ve seen some beautiful pics of your new Rosé wines on Instagram. Tell us bit about more about them
We have created two new wines under the Cable Bay umbrella; a Pinot Rosé from our organic vineyard in the Awatere Valley, and a Reserve Sauvignon made in a custom Fumé Blanc style.
Our Rosé wines are being adorned with amazing new labels; they are beautiful hand painted designs reflective of the personalities of the individual ferments and the way we grow the grapes.