Ben is Head Winemaker at his family wine label Zephyr, Marlborough, New Zealand, which today, he dedicates the majority of his focus and passion towards. Ben’s family estate used to be a dairy farm but in 1985 the herd was sold and by 1988 the family were growing grapes. Back then, local winemakers were the lucky recipients of the family fruit. Now, these plots make up the engine of the Zephyr label! Ben did not cut his teeth with Zephyr however…
Ben’s career began at the esteemed Wither Hills as an apprentice winemaker, but it wasn’t too long before he took the top job himself! Ben has also turned his hand to winemaking for Lindauer, Huntaway, Corbans and Accolade Wines. A rather modest portfolio…
When Ben isn’t making wine, he’s usually judging it. He’s Chair of the ‘Bragato Wine Show’, Co-Chair at New Zealand’s ‘Wine Growers of the Year’ competitions and was Chair of ‘Pinot Noir’ in 2017. Taking place once every four years in Wellington, ‘Pinot Noir’, is the world’s most prestigious wine competition for that esteemed cool climate variety.
Fun Fact: Ben probably prefers a good cocktail, but his favourite wine is Chardonnay. FYI he’s been smashing out outstanding ones for 20+ years and at Bacchus we’re very proud to use the Zephyr Chardonnay, amongst others, within our tastings.
We love the subtle Zephyr reference in the next picture @Ben Cheers to you!
Acknowledgments to zephywine.com , gouretttravellerwine.com and grape-to-glass.com for all the intel.
- NZ’s biggest export markets are Australia, the US and, of course, the UK.
- Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 2/3 of total plantings. No other country in the world plants a single variety in such a density.*
- Generally speaking NZ’s climate is maritime. However, the south island is cooler than the north. NZ champions cool climate varieties.
- Pinot Noir is the second most widely planted grape variety, while Pinot Gris and Chardonnay do remarkably well also. Sun worshipping varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown in select regions with success but quantities are very low indeed. Other small production varieties wort hunting down would be Spain’s Albariño and Austria’s Gruner Veltliner.
- Premier regions include Marlborough (north east of south island) producers top cooler climate loving grapes such as Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay. Look towards Martinborough (southern tip of the north island) for world class Pinot Noir!
- In excess of 80% of NZ’s exported Sauv Blanc is produced in Marlborough
- Pinot Noir accounts for 70% of NZ’s red wine production
- New Zealand wine is ace!
*excluding Airén for Spanish brandy
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And while we’re here…
Fun facts on New Zealand:
- New Zealand’s short rise to pre-eminence is second to none; from 400 hectors in 1960 to 40,000 today!
- The country has 2000 vineyards. 500 wineries can be found (grand compared to Thailand’s 7, less so with France’s 27,000).
- Production for NZ is ranked at 15th largest in the world (compare that to England at 67th).