Winemakers labelled on the rise by magazine

By Roger Moroney

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Rod McDonald of Rod McDonald Wines was one of three rising stars.
Rod McDonald of Rod McDonald Wines was one of three rising stars.

Three Hawke's Bay winemakers have been adjudged by Master of Wine Bob Campbell to be among eight winemakers throughout the country he describes as "on the rise".

Mr Campbell has produced a feature article for the upcoming issue of the international magazine Gourmet Wine Traveller where he has focused on what he called the rising stars across the New Zealand winemaking landscape. Rod McDonald of Rod McDonald Wines, Steve Skinner at Elephant Hill and Dermot McCollom at Stonecroft all made Mr Campbell's list.

All have been in their roles, at their wineries, for a decade or less.

While Mr McDonald started in 2006 as a contract winemaking business he began releasing wine under his own brand of Quarter Acre in 2011.

He set up his own premises in 2013 which he told Mr Campbell "allows us to take more risks".

Two of his three vineyards are organic and the third is in the process.

One of Mr McDonald's prime philosophies is that a great wine should have a signature that identifies the location and the maker. One of the team at the winery said they had a slight chuckle at the thought of Mr McDonald, who has been in the business a long time, being deemed to be "on the rise". "We are sure he (Bob Campbell) means in a slow burner kind of way."

Irish-born Dermot McCollom is a more recent addition to the Hawke's Bay winemaking scene.

He and partner Andria Monin purchased Stonecroft in 2010 - it was the first winery to be established on the Gimblett Gravels district and has the oldest syrah vines in New Zealand. Stonecroft is well known for its syrah, zinfandel, gewrztraminer and chardonnay wines, and only organic practices are used with both the two original vineyards and the winery, fully certified organic with AsureQuality.

Steve Skinner is another relatively recent addition to the Bay's winemaking ranks.

His academic background saw him achieve an economics degree and he planned for a future in the finance sector - but winemaking was always in the back of his mind. So he studied wine science and ventured off to work harvests in California and France, as well as in the Bay, and then secured the role at Elephant Hill which he said was his "dream job".

"In a few short years Elephant Hill, under the guidance of winemaker Steve Skinner, has become a colossus due to its award-winning contribution to world-class wine production," wine writer and Hawke's Bay Today columnist Yvonne Lorkin said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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