Tag: Profile

Trendsetter: Rachael Carter from Soho Wines Co.

Rachael Carter

Soho Wine Co Founder & Managing Director Rachael Carter and her team are mixing up the New Zealand wine arena with handsome models, chic labels, stylish fashion designer names and last but not least, great award-winning wines!

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That’s why Soho is one of my favourite wine brands and hopefully the first lifestyle brand of many more to come…

Hi Rachael, thanks a lot for your time, let’s get started …

First Job
Waitressing at bars part-time but full-time was working for my dad who owned a Wine Supplies Company (corks, caps, barrels, yeasts, machinery etc) – I was his secretary!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Replying to many emails, planning sales & current stocks, staff meetings, new markets, juggling this cash thirsty business, generally a wine with lunch over my computer and catching up on staff news and TV gossip!

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If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
A Chardonnay… you always have a good time on Chard!

What would you do if you wouldn’t be Managing Director of Soho?
I always wanted to be an actor in Hollywood although I think I would have made a good PI.

Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
I was dragged in by my dad.

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What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
We have such unique landscape, our climate & soil etc… the main thing I love about New Zealand wine is our commitment to quality, we have such beautiful fruit and amazing winemakers who craft premium wine that is really reflective of the terroir.. giving each wine a real personality.

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Roast Pork, Apple sauce and Chardonnay followed by Lemon Meringue Pie and Riesling.

Share a fact about yourself that only a few know:
I am obsessed with Hollywood, Jewish people & Netflix.

Hidden gems and favourite spots in Auckland:
United Kitchen in Pons is my fav at the mo (at the back of Bar 151).

Things you still want to do:
Go to Croatia (my mother’s motherland) on a super yacht with my little girl and good friends, go to the Superbowl & maybe meet Mr Right.

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Last book read: 
Life – Keith Richards.

Advice on buying wine:
Don’t always go on price, if you like something go for it, wine is just like food … you know what you like and what you don’t like.  Don’t ever let anyone make you feel insecure by their wine snobbery.

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Girl – Chelsea Handler (she’s so funny & would be a great drinking buddy)
Guy – David Beckham (because he’s so HOT)

Thank you soho much Rachael. Sorry, I had to write that!

Visit Soho’s website for more info and make sure you follow them on Instagram | Facebook & Twitter.


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Blogger Spotlight: Mel Chesneau from Styled Canvas

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourite bloggers, Mel Chesneau from Styled Canvas.

Mel’s blog is about life being our blank canvas and she styles hers well as an interior design blogger, writer and stylist and mum of three kids.

Hi Mel, please tell us a little bit about yourself, Styled Canvas and your background. What brought you to New Zealand?
I’m a Sydney girl who left a job in television to backpack around Europe in the late nineties where I met my (French) husband in a Flea Market. I lived with him in France for about a year before moving back to Sydney and then realized that I couldn’t live without him. It then took us about ten months of living apart before he could get all of the necessary documents to move to Australia. We married at a friend’s property in the Hunter Valley, a wine region in NSW. We’ve now got three beautiful children, two boys and a girl.

We were lucky enough to be transferred here from Sydney for my husband to head Nespresso back in 2011 and our little girl was born a couple of months after arriving. We’re pretty chuffed to have a kiwi in the family.

I started my blog in July 2012 under a different name as a creative output and I had no idea how much it would consume me and how incredibly passionate I’d become about it. It’s also led me to a freelance writing career. Early this year I undertook a huge rebrand of the blog, which included a name change to Styled Canvas to properly reflect the style.

What’s your favourite New Zealand wine?
Not your every day wine but always a treat, Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir.

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
A Pinot Noir. Some of the good ones are smooth and green at the same time – and I’d like to stay young.

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
A stinky blue with a Riesling it’s unusual but surprisingly good. Here’s a post I did on a cheese platter some time ago where I got some advice from my father in-law in France who is in the wine business.

Mel Chesneau of Styled Canvas

Share a fact about yourself that only a few know
Don’t tell my Dad but when I was a teenager, sometimes I’d sneak a glass of wine with my friends and top the bottle up with water so that he didn’t know (like he didn’t).

Hidden gems and favourite spots in your area
Farro Fresh and Ponsonby Central for everything food, cheese and wine. I love to shop locally for homewares at Wallace Street corner shops Herne Bay and finish off with a bite to eat at Dear Jervois.

Things you still want to do:
Travel! I miss the freedom of it, that and writing novels. This will no doubt happen once the kids have grown, so I don’t wish that time here anytime soon, but it’s a nice thing to look forward to in many years to come.

Last book read
Oh reading! Sadly I’m not doing enough of it lately. My last read was “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini. Absolutely heart wrenching.

Advice on buying wine:
Go boutique.

I usually celebrate special occasions with a bottle of …
French champagne.

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
I’d love to share a glass with Lee, my dear friend whom I went backpacking to Europe with. We barely see each other now. We live in different parts of the world, but she’s one of those friends that I know will always be there and that I have a wonderful time with each time our paths cross.

Now head over to Styled Canvas and check out Mel’s great work. You can also stay in touch with her via Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest & Twitter.


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Kelly & Matt, the duo behind Wine Republic

Happy Monday everyone!

After finding out a little bit more about the online wine shop Wine Republic a couple of weeks ago, I’d like to introduce you today to the passionate duo behind the e-store, Kelly Wybrew (K) & Matt Bitter (M).

Hi Kelly, hi Matt, thanks a lot for your time. Let’s get started …

K: co-founder of Wine Republic (and Project Manager by day).
M: co-founder of Wine Republic (and Continuous Improvement Lead for a local winery by day).

Number of years in the wine industry:
Both 13 years.

First Job:
K: picking grapes for our neighbour.
M: picking grapes for my uncle (the thing to do during school holidays).

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Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
We both grew up surrounded by wine, and it’s just one of our favourite things!

What’s your favourite thing about wine?
K: There’s always something new to learn, it’s never-ending. And you can never get bored with it. M: The variety – the people, the places and the wine itself. As Kelly said, it’s pretty difficult to get bored with!

What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine, but our reputation for producing premium, beautiful wines is continually growing, which is pretty impressive. There are so many passionate winemakers here who are doing really exciting, interesting things… you just have to find them! And that’s primarily what we’re trying to do, help people discover them :)

If you were a wine, what wine would you be and why?
K: Riesling – so good in so many ways, and often mistaken for something sweeter than it really is!
M: an imported Barossa Shiraz, which (hopefully) gets better with age…

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Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Combinations that surprise, and enhance both the meal and the wine… the other night we tried a Pinot Blanc from Nelson with an Ottolenghi recipe of Cardamom rice with poached eggs and yoghurt… sounds slightly odd, tasted ridiculously amazing!

What’s your go to wine at the moment?
K: Riesling. Summer/Winter, I can’t get enough of it! One of my favourites is by a Canterbury-based producer we feature, True & Daring. So tasty.
M: with the onset of winter I can’t go past a big red such as a Hawke’s Bay Cabernet or a silky Martinborough Pinot Noir.

Share a fact about you that only a few know:
M: I can open a bottle of wine under cork, with just a boot… it’s an impressive party trick!
K: I’ve studied international politics, industrial design, publishing and construction management, as well as wine studies… I tend to get bored easily…

Favourite spots in Auckland:
We love the food culture in Auckland, and living near Ponsonby spend a part of each weekend mooching around! But we also love getting away to Whangamata when we can… nothing beats hitting the Coromandel.

Things you still want to do:
So much of New Zealand we still have to explore! Next up on the list is Tongariro Crossing.

Highlight in 2014:
Launching Wine Republic.

Last book read:
K: The Denizen magazine – does a magazine count?!
M: Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.

Advice on buying wine:
Don’t be afraid to try new things! Go to tastings, try varieties you’ve never heard of, learn what you really do (and don’t) like. Wine is a personal thing – don’t be swayed by points or medals or crazy wine jargon – if you think it’s tasty and want to drink an entire bottle, then that’s what matters!

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
It may sound trite, but family and friends, every time. And perhaps Jimmy Fallon, we love him.

Make sure you visit Wine Republic and follow them on Facebook | Twitter & Instagram.


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The Aidan Kelly Project

I want to introduce you to Aidan Kelly. Aidan’s only 23 and he’s ridiculously talented. He’s also genuinely inspiring.

A Marlborough orphan like myself, until recently Aidan was a full-time musician on the streets of our capital city. Saturday mornings you will find him busking on Blenheim’s Market Street.

And he has a semi-regular gig Friday/Saturday nights at Yard Bar, Ritual and Scotch – a recent development after winning a local talent contest.

But music’s an expensive habit. By day, Aidan’s a viticulturist for Cloudy Bay Vineyards, hence the recent move to Blenheim (not the most obvious choice for an aspiring musician!). It was an opportunity too good to pass up and one that feeds his insatiable thirst as an ecologist.

Despite being the best live act I’ve seen anywhere in years (and yes, I do get out!) and a talented song writer, this is his true passion. Aidan wants more than anything to own a modest piece of land, to grow food and to teach people about holistic living. Whilst his ideals may be more modest than my own (I’m a Taurus what can I say?!) he’s a thought leader. And he doesn’t preach. But watch his eyes light up when he talks about food forestry (at its simplest, this is the application of ecosystem principles to food and resource production, utilising multiple layers of production – think of the different layers of the forest, the soil, shrub layer, canopy etc. – to maximise productivity). He’s also an aspiring winemaker.

He’s one to watch, literally – check out his Facebook page. I think he’d give Ed Sheeran a run for his money. ‘Understanding in a Car Crash’ is crazy beautiful. Star struck? Not much.


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Wine Republic – the NZ wine shop with a difference

Sip Bits: Wine FAQ Vol. 1

Wine Republic is an online wine store with a difference. Hand selected wines from boutique wineries, a fresh new look and take on wine e-commerce with a strong social media presence.

Let’s find out more about this handsome online shop from its founders Kelly & Matt:

Tell us a bit about Wine Republic:
With Wine Republic, we’re aiming to represent the best of what artisanal, small winemakers are doing in New Zealand. We have some great small growers and makers of really beautiful, high quality, interesting wines – that wine drinkers in New Zealand have yet to discover!

Basically we want to act as a platform to introduce these wines to people who want to enjoy better, more interesting wine.

When & why did you start it and what is your point of difference to other online wine shops?
We launched at the end of last year, after deliberating over a year or two of whether we were actually going to do this or not! Growing up in the Barossa Valley, wine is a part of life, and we were exposed to some fantastic little-known wines.

When we moved to New Zealand five years ago, we were excited to see what New Zealand wines were all about, but felt there wasn’t much exposure for the little guys over here – we wanted to find these hidden gems, and figured there must be others out there looking for them too!

Point of difference:
We’re trying to bring a more fresh approach to the online wine retail space. We focus on bringing people an interesting, premium selection of little-known New Zealand wines that are hard to find anywhere else.

We personally hand-pick and taste each and every wine we feature, and write all of our own tasting notes from a personal perspective – if it’s not something we would drink, we don’t feature it!

Highs and low of e-commerce:
Highs: the online presence enables us to reach so many more people around New Zealand than a bricks & mortar shop. Social media is a great way of getting people to find out about us and we enjoy the interaction.

Lows: On the flipside, not being able to meet all our customers face to face. And it’s a tad hard to taste wine online, so building trust with our customers, and describing what we feel a wine is truly like is paramount. And coding! Who even understands that stuff?!

Who is the designer and who is the programmer?
We’re both involved in the design of the site, we designed our own branding, all the photos we take ourselves and we’re really striving to create a beautiful, user-friendly site. We work with a local guy who helps us with all the advanced programming stuff we just don’t understand (see ‘Lows’ above!)

Who is your target customer – apart from the one who spends all his money in your shop :)
People like us really! Other like-minded folk who want to try something different and interesting, and aren’t afraid of experimenting with new varieties, or trying something new in the quest for finding that next favourite drop :)

Next week you’ll have the chance to find out more about the founders Kelly & Matt – so keep an eye out for their Q&A!

In the meantime head over to Wine Republic now and check out their selection of boutique New Zealand wines and follow them on Facebook | Twitter & Instagram.


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Joelle Thomson – wine writer, author & tutor

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing renowned wine writer and author, Joelle Thomson.

Wine writer, author and tutor at the NZ School of Food & Wine, Auckland (have written 14 books now and a 15th coming; working slowly on a 16th – I keep saying ‘never again’ to writing a book and losing my social life).

It’s a tough job but you know what they say.

Number of years in the wine industry:

First Job:
Arts journo at Capital Times in Wellington where I began a wine column in 1994…. well, actually, that was the first job I want to mention (I was a flambe waitress in the Shetland Islands and also worked as a copywriter in TV and as a journo in Dunedin, prior to all that.)

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
Most people who know me might expect me to say a German Riesling, but I’d like to be a great Barolo.

What would you do if you weren’t a wine writer?
I would like to be able to be a musician; a singer, songwriter and guitar player. Failing that, then I’d love to garden – or grow vines – for a living.

Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
It sort of happened when I realised it wasn’t going to work just dabbling in wine writing as a hobby; it was far far far too interesting and far too much to learn, so I slipped deeper into the fermentation tank of wine writing, reading, tasting and all that jazz…

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
A great cheese with a great red; ultimate would be Parmagiano-Reggiano with Barolo… but then again, a gorgeous dry Rheingau Riesling with fresh salmon is incredibly hard to beat; so is pizza with Sangiovese.

Share a fact about you that only a few know:
That would be telling. The first serious partner I had wooed me with Pescovino.

Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region:
Humbug Cafe in New Lynn; reminds me of Wellington, which I miss every day that I live in Auckland.

Things you still want to do:
Own a hot tub, live in Italy for a stint, write more diversely, run half a marathon and maybe even make some sort of vino one day…. that’s a good start.

Last book read:
Still reading it: The Oxford Companion to Wine. Am mired in wine study (WSET Diploma; that’s code for a degree course, and yes, it feels like a degree – on top of working full time…. ouch!).

Advice on buying wine:
Find someone who understands your palate and spend time with them so that you can learn how to discover great wines for yourself; we all need at least one mentor in all of our hobbies. I have several. They never let me down. It can be humbling but it’s so rewarding tasting wine with people who know more or have tried more than you have; can only think of one or two other things that are as fascinating…

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Oscar Wilde.

Joelle Thomson’s website: www.joellethomson.com
(Read my site; it’s growing, changing, adapting and it doesn’t espouse rules about wine; rules are made to be….)


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Winemaker Profile: Renée Dale

Day job: Contract bottling winemaker at WineWorks Auckland.
Extracurricular job: Winemaker for my own wine brand {moi} wines & partner in Winery Doors.

It’s important for one to get a foot in the door of the industry at a young age but how does one keep it there? In my experience the wine industry doesn’t always lend itself to developing young talent coming through. It’s all very well doing a Wine Science degree but what truly defines a winemaker? It’s different in every wine business you look!

By starting my own brand I’ve been able to continue my learning and growth in this industry at a level that sustains my thirst for knowledge. “My Own Invention – {moi} wines” forces me to learn the process of product development, wine production, compliance, marketing, brand management, accounting, business development. Basically from word to go and I just can’t get enough!

With all the knowledge I’ve absorbed in the last decade I needed a creative outlet in which to direct my extra energies and I can take these learnings with me into my daily role as a bottling winemaker for WineWorks. I’m much more passionate because of this side project and confident my duties are performed on behalf of our clients with the highest care and degree of detail. It’s not all about {moi} you know!

Renée Dale 1

Number of years in the wine industry:

First Job:
First job ever? Cast in a Weetbix Ad
First job in wine industry? Trinity Hill cellar door sales – the best kick start to my career in the wine industry, thanks to the awesome people who worked there!

If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
I’ve often thought about this and at different times of my life I have had different answers. I can be a bit fruity, unique, structured, a little quirky or spicy, with many layers, and I tend to look at life quite deeply. I think I am a Syrah – at the moment I’m thinking of the last Syrah that took my breath away – St Joseph 2010 Vignes de l’hospice.

Renée Dale 2

What would you do if you wouldn’t be a winemaker?
As I’m passionate about permaculture I’d love to somehow be involved in sustainable business development/consulting.

Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
I loved the idea of combining food science and creativity as well having an active job that could help me travel to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. The reality sometimes means it is very physical or grubby and not as romantic as you’d expect. I am constantly learning and growing throughout my career and it has become my constant – my ground zero so to speak and it keeps me sane when life around me can seem tumultuous.

Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
{moi} wines 2013 Viognier and homemade smoked fish pate is a winning combination!

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Share a fact about your winery that only a few know:
My first vintage of Cabernet Franc for {moi} was accidental – I was meant to be making a Viognier for M-Wines and the seasonal rains ruined a lot of white fruit that year.

Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region:
I wouldn’t say it is a hidden gem so to speak but it is one of my favourite places in the whole world – Wainamu Lake & sand dunes near Bethells Beach, West Auckland.

Things you still want to do:
– Make port for a season in Portugal
– Scuba dive in the Galapagos
– Travel to France, India, Mauritius and Chile
– Make Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Riesling

Last book read:
To cork or not to Cork – Michael Taber.

Advice on buying wine:
Don’t be afraid to try something new or difficult to pronounce!

Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?

Follow {moi} wines on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.


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