Tessa Nicholson is the editor of the NZ Winegrower magazine and one that knows the New Zealand wine industry inside and out despite growing up in Palmerston North – as far away from wine country as you can get!
She began life in Radio, before she moved to Blenheim in 1981, when the wine industry was just beginning to bloom. She’s married to Ross and has four boys, aged 21– 28 and still lives in beautiful Marlborough.
Hi Tessa, thanks for your time. Please tell us a bit about yourself…
What’s your wine connection?
We owned a vineyard in the early 90s, which led to me becoming a wine reporter for the Marlborough Express. Then to Editor of Winepress, the Marlborough region’s industry magazine. Since 2011 I have been editor of NZ Winegrower, having been a regional writer for Terry Dunleavy for the previous six years.
What’s a ‘normal’ day like for you?
A normal day involves ensuring the dog gets a good long walk, and is then happy to sit at my feet for the rest of the day, while I write, interview or sub stories. I work from home – the best office in the world – I think.
What was your first job?
First job was as a cadet for 2ZA, a radio station in Palmerston North. Went on to be a programmer, and then a current affairs announcer.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be an editor?
I would want to be an actress. Yep I know that makes me sound like I am a tween.
What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
Where do I start? It is fresh, vibrant,fruit forward, innovative. And the people involved, whether they be in the vineyards or the winery – are just the best. They all love what they are doing and can’t help but enthuse anyone in contact with them. Go to wine at the moment is Jules Taylor Chardonnay 2013 – although I am moving up to 2014, as my stocks of the 13 are getting VERY low.
Which wine are you saving for a special occasion?
I am not big on saving wine – I love it too much for that. But I have a bottle of No 1 Family Estate, Assemblé, which is the first Marlborough sparkling wine to be labelled as a Mèthode Marlborough. Daniel gave me this recently – and I am saving it for Christmas. Can’t wait.
What’s the next big thing in the New Zealand wine industry?
That’s a hard one, but at the moment I think some of the Gruner Veltliners that are appearing are outstanding. I also think that with the introduction of Prosecco vines into Gisborne next year, New Zealand could be on to something very big in the years ahead.
What wine would I be …
Oh that’s easy – a Sparkling Cuvee. Bubbly, with a touch of dry and great at parties.
Share a fact about you that only a few know
For three years I was the host of a children’s radio programme in Palmerston North. My moniker was Tessie Twinkle Toes. I can’t believe I am telling you that.
Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region
The Marlborough Sounds in total are a hidden gem. We have a family bach which is my “heaven on earth”. Nothing to do but read books, eat, drink and enjoy friends and family.
Pelorus Bridge is another favourite – fabulous bush walks, incredible river and a not too dusty café as well.
Things you still want to do
River boat through the wine regions of France. Walk the Great Wall of China, and reach as many milestone years as I can without losing my marbles.
Last book I read
I am a total bookworm and normally read five or six a week, much to the disgust of Ross and the boys. Just finished this morning – Stephen King’s Finders Keepers. Not too bad. But over the weekend I read Lauren Groff’s, Fates and Furies. Amazing!!!
Advice on buying wine?
I am not sure I am the right person to be answering that. But if I gave any advice, it would be – buy what you like, don’t feel pressured to buy what you think you should.
Dead or alive, who would I like to share a drink with?
Katherine Hepburn – OMG how cool would that be. Or Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart together. Play it again Sam.
Thanks Tessa for your time!