Budburst, a Celebration of Natural Wines in Wellington

Budburst Natural WinesBudburst Natural Wines

Natural wine has no single definition. So why would anyone put an unknown at the centre of the festival philosophy?

A big part of the thinking is to generate dialogue for a start – encouraging wine drinkers to ask questions like: If the festival is celebrating natural, then what is unnatural? Or what is it about natural wine that has captured the imaginations of drinkers?

We want to get people asking questions, thinking about what they’re drinking and why, and to help them draw their own conclusions about natural wine by giving them access to a range of wine styles and producers from New Zealand and around the world.

What is Budburst?
Budburst is New Zealand’s first Natural Wine & Food Festival. A one-day event for 400 people on Sunday 13 November at Prefab Cafe & Hall on Jessie Street in Wellington.

Budburst 2016

Budburst 2016

How does Budburst define natural?
All of the criteria that went into defining ‘what is natural?’ for the purposes of Budburst were the result of months of philosophical debate. One sentiment stood out above the rest: for the team at Budburst, natural wine is about farming first and foremost. The fruit has to come from an organic or biodynamically farmed vineyard. There is no point espousing minimal intervention winemaking if the fruit the winemaker is working with has been sprayed  within an inch of its life.

Beyond how the grapes are grown we must consider  the matter of how the wine is made. We looked at what other natural wine festivals were prescribing and what the New Zealand winemaker was already doing and we  – through much deliberation – came up with a set of guidelines including things like: grapes must be picked by hand, not machine harvested; minimal use of new oak; no fining or filtration; wild fermentation; and 50 ppm or less of total sulphur dioxide in the finished wine. Did we get it right? Well, we are happy for that to be part of the dialogue. For our first year we simply needed to lay some foundations from which to build.

Natural Wines


The Budburst festival aims to start a rich conversation about natural wines, incorporating diverse views and opinions. We ask only that you come with an open mind. Experience these hand-picked, unique wines without any preconceived notions, and you may even end the day with a new passion for the wonderful world of natural wines.

How were the producers selected?
Our hope? That we have selected a range of really interesting, well-made and delicious wines – wines that will have festival goers talking and tweeting on the day and then seeking them out at their local bars, restaurants and wine shops in the wake of the event.

The idea is for consumers to lead the demand and for the wine trade to follow-up with supply. Education sessions will run throughout the day to feed festival goers bite-sized morsels of thought-provoking material, inspiring further conversation and debate between the ticket holders and the producers pouring wine.

Our education sessions will look at things like the follies of the natural wine scene, what natural looks like when we swap wine for beer, coffee or chocolate, and the effect of skin contact in white wines.

So what New Zealand producers are going to be at Budburst?

Here are just a few:

Rippon – Wanaka

As a winemaker Nick Mills sees himself as a custodian of a very singular piece of land. His job? To do justice to his remarkable site through the wines he lovingly crafts. We think he does his job and then some.

Wine to try: Rippon Gamay Noir 2014

Millton – Gisborne

The first producers in New Zealand to attain BioGro organic certification, and the first in the Southern Hemisphere to gain Demeter biodynamic certification. James Millton has been making gorgeous wines in his little corner of the world for over 30-years.

Wine to try: Millton Libiamo Gewurztraminer 2015

Pyramid Valley

Pyramid Valley

Pyramid Valley – Waipara

Words used to describe Pyramid Valley: left-of-centre, ground-breaking and unconventional. A husband and wife duo, the former is a Burgundian trained winemaker and the latter a biodynamic green-thumb.

Wine to try: Howell Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc 2014

Mount Edward – Central Otago

Mount Edward is all about personality and enjoyment, and we’re not just talking about winemaker Duncan Forsyth or his unique sense of style. Estate-grown fruit, natural yeasts and minimal intervention making wines of elegance and vibrancy.

Wine to try: Mount Edward Morrison Gruner Veltliner 2014

Other exciting producers who will be pouring on the day include:

Black Estate and Ekleipsis (from Waipara), Aurum, Carrick – Death of Von Tempsky and Sato (all from Central Otago), Supernatural (from Hawke’s Bay), Cambridge Road and Don wines (from Martinborough) and Seresin (from Marlborough).

This is by no means a complete list of natural producers in New Zealand. We’ve had the regrettable task of turning away producers whose wines meet our standards, but who we simply couldn’t fit in the room. We’ve tried to ensure representation from across the different winemaking regions in New Zealand,  to try and get as complete a picture as possible in front of the wine-curious.

We will be featuring even more kiwi wines at the Budburst pop-up wine bar and have a selection of wines from the event available for sale at the pop-up retail store.

Tickets are available at budburst.nz and make sure you follow Budburst on Twitter | Facebook  & Instagram.

See you there,

Sign-up to our newsletter and follow Sip NZ Wine on: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook