Winemaker and winner of the North Island NZ Young Winemaker of the Year, Sara Addis, hopes her recent win will open a few industry doors. She chats to Mark Story.
What does your win mean for your career?
For me personally, it means so much as it proves to me I have got what it takes to be a winemaker. Career-wise, hopefully my win will help open some exciting new doors in the future and I look forward to seeing what they are. I'm still a student so hopefully, once I graduate, my win will be another string to my bow. My long-term goal is to work down in Central Otago, where my partner Lachy is from, but I'd also love to do some more harvests in France.
How do wine drinking habits differ between here and your native UK?
From my experience, both Poms and Kiwis love a drink. It's probably why I feel so at home here! The UK wine industry is so small that most wines are imported but here, I drink mostly New Zealand wines as there's such an awesome local range. Here, a European or American wine is generally a massive treat (maybe that's just me and my student budget!) but over in the UK, they are so spoilt for choice when it comes to wines from all over the world. I think wine is still the drink of choice in both countries with beer a close second. I love wine but there's nothing like a cold beer after a 12-hour harvest shift!
How much of winemaking is art, and how much is science?
I would say it's a 50/50 split. A wine can be technically perfect and taste disgusting or be a work of art and totally unpalatable. It's finding the balance that is the hard part! Unfortunately, the "art" part requires a lot of patience and is much harder to learn than the "science" part so I have all of that to discover over the course of my, hopefully long, career.
Who's your most respected winemaker?
This is not something I've ever really thought about as I normally talk in favourite wines, not winemakers. But I suppose if I have to pick ... Janice McDonald, of Howard Park in Margaret River, was the first winemaker I ever properly met. I worked in the cellar door over there while on a working holiday visa in Australia in 2011. She is so knowledgeable and so talented and she helped introduce me to rieslings (for which I will be forever grateful). I remember her bringing me two glasses of chardonnay one day and she asked me if I could notice a difference between them. It turned out they were from the same vineyard but one was hand-picked and the other machine harvested. The contrast was staggering and I was fascinated that I could actually smell and taste the difference. I think this was the moment the winemaking seed was planted! One winemaker I would absolutely love to meet is Aubert de Villaine, from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which produces the world's most expensive pinot noir. I'd love to meet him and taste his wines as there's no way a wine student in New Zealand could ever afford them! I'd have to take my parents with me though, otherwise I'd be cut out of their will!
It's whitebait season. Pick the perfect Hawke's Bay wine match for this delicacy.
I suffer from the very serious "rubber elbow syndrome" and need absolutely no encouragement to crack some bubbles. I would recommend the Church Road Blanc de Noirs Méthode Traditionnelle with a delicious local whitebait fritter. The squeeze of lemon would partner perfectly with the citrus notes of the wine and the delicate fizz would complement the subtle flavours of the whitebait.