Meet Strat Canning from Margrain Vineyard

Established in 1992 by Graham and Daryl Margrain, Margrain Vineyard has cultivated a reputation for producing a wide range of premium wines in New Zealand’s most charming region, Martinborough.

This boutique producer offers a one stop vineyard experience including accommodation in their Vineyard Villas, as well as conference and function facilities and a cafe.

I caught up with winemaker Strat Canning who joined this boutique producer in 1996. He is passionate about creating the perfect interface between vineyard and winery, vines and finished wine. Always looking to enjoy the fun side of the industry and trying to make the more tedious parts more enjoyable.

Number of years in the wine industry
Staring down the barrel of my 30th New Zealand vintage, 20 of which have been at Margrain.

First Job
I worked 10 years for the Government, Fisheries Research (now NIWA), but my first wine job was working for my brother who owned De Redcliffe Estate, south of Auckland at the time. He was the only one who would give me a job in the industry!

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
A subtle yet highly complex aged Pinot Noir.

What would you do if you wouldn’t be a winemaker?
Growing or making something. Something tangible.

Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
The appeal of working the land, growing something and then taking it through to a finished, marketable product.

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
I catch the odd trout but never keep them. I shoot the odd duck then savour them with a succulent bottle of Pinot Noir.

Share a fact about yourself that only a few know
The other reason I got into the wine industry was for the motivation it accorded me. What one does (or does not do) every day in the vineyard and winery can ultimately be judged by the wine in the bottle over a 10 to 15 year period. There’s nowhere to hide, I find that personally very motivating!

Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region
The Ruamahanga River is a real gem right on our doorstep. Excellent trout fishing and perfect for cooling off after a day spent toiling in the vineyard. The southern and eastern coastlines are as rugged and inhospitable as any in the country. It is awe-inspiring to sit and watch the sea coming in during a southerly storm and imagine the early sailors refinding their religion, with no possibility of a safe haven.

Things you still want to do
Tour the South Island by camper van. The North Island too. That way you can take your wine cellar with you and always find the perfect bottle to toast those beautiful remote camping spots of an evening.

Last book read
Paris by Edward Rutherfurd.

Advice on buying wine
Not always possible but try to buy wine from “real” producers – not international conglomerates or one-off made up labels from some faceless web portal. I am very biased toward New Zealand wine and feel it’s my duty to drink it!

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Gin Wigmore. She’s a sassy girl who drinks Pinot on stage; a great ambassador! I yelled out to her at her recent concert “What are you drinking Gin?” “Red wine” she replied. I could see that but I wanted to announce to the audience “Pinot Noir”!

Thanks Strat. You can find out more about Margrain Vineyard on their website and make sure you follow them on Facebook.

Cheers,
Emily

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