It's a long way from the halls of the Houses of Parliament in London to the vineyards of Hawke's Bay but Tom Carpenter has no regrets after embarking on a major lifestyle shift.

"Yes, definitely - it is a bit of a change," said the 35-year-old from Hampshire.

What drove him to sort out the paperwork for a move to the Southern Hemisphere was the place he had heard so much about when it came to making high-quality wines.

He had always enjoyed fine wine and made a decision to become part of the industry.


"I want to make wine," he said.

So he closed the door on his career working in politics and policy-making in the Houses of Parliament and the European Union, and in February 2014 arrived in New Zealand.

"I'd been to other parts of New Zealand in the past but not to Hawke's Bay - but I had to come here because it has this great balance of red and white wines."

He said New Zealand was fortunate as the industry here was more of an "open book".

"There are far less strict rules about wine styles, grape varieties and what wines from a specific area must be," Mr Carpenter said.

"New Zealand is a skilled winemaking country with thorough training and a solid background.

"But there's also freedom in what can be done that's not hampered by old-fashioned ideas and restrictions - and this truly appeals to me."

He had done some winemaking research online and chose the long-established course at EIT for his bold move to "change everything and start again".

"The EIT [Hawke's Bay] has been very encouraging."

After arriving, he also got in touch with Clearview Estate owners Tim Turvey and Helma van den Berg and found himself in the weekend cellar door crew.

He was delighted to be part of a team that made the final three in the Hawke's Bay Cellar Door of the Year this month.

He was even more delighted when, with three of his EIT winemaking peers, he helped forge a gold medal-winning syrah which won at the Romeo Bragato wine awards.

"That was stunning for all of us - it was amazing as there were 43 other syrahs we had to get past to get that."

Ms van den Berg said she and Mr Turvey were proud of Mr Carpenter and his successful transition to his new life amid the vines.

"Tom is a terrific representative for Clearview, presenting our large range of wines and giving guests a memorable cellar door and wine-tasting experience," she said.

"His knowledge and enthusiasm are strong assets and a great fit with our company."

Mr Carpenter was looking forward to meeting more visitors at Clearview over summer.

And he could not wait to kick off his winemaking career in the 2016 vintage, after completing his diploma in grape growing and winemaking at EIT.

"There's no going back," he said. "Hawke's Bay is such a beautiful place.