Inform and inspire
This immersive event will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, and wine tastings led by industry experts.
Following a first career in food working as a chef and training in France as a cheesemaker, Steve has spent 30 years winemaking and has lead the famed Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley since 2003. A Len Evans Scholar, Steve is an experienced wine show judge across regional and national shows. In 2016 he was awarded the Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine Winemaker of the Year award and in2019 was announced as Wine Communicators Victorian Legend of the Vine. In 2022 Steve joined Wine Network in Australia as a Senior Consultant and Director. Across his work, he has been involved in the progression and evolution of the Modern Australian Chardonnay and thus is well-placed to share insights on the journey towards New Zealand becoming one of the greatest Chardonnay producers in the world.
“I am really excited to be part of the Aotearoa Chardonnay Symposium. I have a deep respect and love for your country and I have always felt that there is the potential for New Zealand to become one of the greatest Chardonnay producers in the world. I’ve been asked to present on the evolution of Modern Australian Chardonnay and I feel like we have a bunch of ideas to share from across the ditch.”
Christina has been telling wine stories for nearly 15 years, first from her former home in London, England, then from her second former home in Perth, Australia, and now in her current home in New York’s Hudson Valley. She has written for publications around the globe including Decanter, Gourmet Traveller Wine, James Halliday’s Wine Companion, and Food & Wine. Christina is currently Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Writer at Large, covering the wines of Australia, New Zealand, New York and Great Britain. She tastes and reviews over 1500 wines per year from these regions. As a presenter and educator, Christina was the co-host of one of wine’s first podcasts, The Crush. She was a regular television and live presenter in the UK, and the founder of School of Wine in Western Australia.
“Chardonnay that strikes that delicate balance between power and elegance, lightness and darkness, site expression and winemaker expression, well, there is no wine more gorgeous in all the world. It’s a variety that, as a wine professional, I love to write about. And it’s one, as a consumer, that I love to drink. So, I’m thrilled to be taking part in the very first Aotearoa Chardonnay Symposium; to get to know more of the nation’s passionate Chard producers; and to shine a spotlight on the breadth and quality of Chardonnay across New Zealand.”
Emma Jenkins MW
Emma Jenkins MW abandoned her University of Otago science training for a more sociable career in wine. She’s worked in fine wine retail, holds a diploma in winemaking and viticulture, and in 2011 became New Zealand’s ninth Master of Wine. Emma is co-editor of The Independent Wine Monthly alongside Jane Skilton, MW, and writes on a freelance basis for a number of trade and general publications. She also provides consultancy services to a range of industry and corporate entities. In addition, Emma is the Master of Wine Research Paper Chair, teaches WSET courses on occasion and continues to hone her skills judging wine both at local and international competitions. In her spare time, Emma chases children and animals around a large, overgrown garden. She is very much enjoying traveling again.
“I am thrilled to be joining many friends and colleagues at the Aotearoa Chardonnay Symposium. It’s an exciting program and I am looking forward to learning a lot. I have long loved chardonnay, and am increasingly impressed with the styles and wines being made in New Zealand. The Symposium will be a great opportunity to discuss these, to debate chardonnay from an international perspective, as well as to taste some fantastic wines.”
Elizabeth Kelly MW
Elizabeth Kelly MW has spent 20 years in the London wine trade, chiefly at large-scale retailers. She is currently the buying manager at Majestic, the UKs leading wine specialist, panel chair at the International Wine Competition, and is deputy chair of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain. Elizabeth has a deep understanding of the uniquely global British market, one that acts as a battleground for every wine-producing region in the world. She can provide insights on the standing of our wines within this global context from both a commercial and a quality perspective.
“Chardonnay is the most versatile grape variety, easily adapting to different climates and creating wines that run the gamut from bone dry, mineral driven wines, to big rich buttery styles; and of course the best sparkling wines in the world. The diversity of styles ensures there is always something new to discover with this variety and a fresh direction for winemakers to pursue. I’m honoured to be talking at the Aotearoa Chardonnay Symposium and be visiting New Zealand for the very first time.
Rosie Finn & Todd Stevens
Born during the middle of vintage, and being the daughter of Tim and Judy Finn of Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson, it was a safe bet Rosie would end up in the wine business but not one paper on viticulture or oenology was considered.
Upon graduating in design, Rosie moved to London where she met Mel Brown who was launching The New Zealand Cellar. Simply put the rest is history. When the time came move back to NZ, Neudorf was the obvious choice. Nearly 10 years on, Rosie heads up sales and marketing, is the brand ambassador and a director at Neudorf Vineyards. Rosie works closely with Neudorf’s Winemaker and General Manager – Todd Stevens to strategically plan for the future of this iconic New Zealand winery.
Todd Stevens spent 20 years in the NZ wine industry working both internationally (Burgundy, Austria, Oregon) as well as domestically for fine wine estates such as Quartz Reef and Felton Road. He has spent the last 11 years at Neudorf as head winemaker, where his focus has been in crafting wines of distinction, and thus continuing to build on Neudorf’s international reputation for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Of recent years he has taken on the role of General Manager where he works closely with Rosie Finn (Sales and Marketing Director) in strategically planning the future and sustainability of the business.
Dr Rebecca Deed
Dr Rebecca Deed is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Auckland / Waipapa Taumata Rau, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc), BSc (Hons) and Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences.
Her research areas walk the interdisciplinary line between wine yeast molecular biology and biochemistry, analytical chemistry and sensory science to understand the mechanisms behind the formation and impact of key compounds in fermented beverages. Rebecca is also interested in understanding yeast metabolic pathways that impact on aroma formation, fermentative ability, stress and survival.
Rebecca has been involved in the University of Auckland Wine Science teaching programme since 2014, lecturing in viticulture, wine microbiology and sensory evaluation. She also has over 10 years of experience as an associate judge, senior judge, and panel leader in wine judging with over 10 years of experience in judging at national wine competitions and for magazines including Winestate and Dish. Rebecca holds the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits (Distinction) and the Level 1 Award in Sake.
Western Australia-born Julian Grounds has been working in wineries and vineyards since the age of 17. After graduating Dux from his Oenology and Viticulture studies, and receiving the Leeuwin Award for future leadership, Julian was awarded a scholarship to make Pouilly-Fuissé Chardonnays in Burgundy. After stints in Margaret River, Central Otago, and Oregon, Julian took up a role as Senior Winemaker at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley, before returning to Margaret River to join McHenry Hohnen as Chief Winemaker in early 2017. Later that year, he graduated Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial in the Hunter Valley.
Julian joined Craggy Range as Chief Winemaker in January 2019, bringing his enthusiasm for contributing to the constant evolution of wine. Being a part of the inaugural releases of Craggy Range onto the famed La Place de Bordeaux and seeing Craggy Range receive Real Review’s 2023 Number one Winery of New Zealand, are two of Julian’s proudest achievements to date.
Dr Tracey Siebert
Dr Tracey Siebert, Senior Scientist at the AWRI, brings over 20 years of expertise in flavour chemistry research. Her vast experience includes projects on yeast-derived aroma volatiles, tropical sulfur compounds, oak-related aroma compounds, and the black pepper aroma compound, rotundone. With proficiency in GC-MS, MDGC-MS, GC-SCD, and GC-O, she excels in various laboratory techniques. Tracey is a valued member of multiple wine sensory panels, including the in-house technical quality panel. For self-learning and fun, Tracey was part of the Belair Winemaking Team for several years.
In 2018, she completed her PhD exploring ‘stone fruit’ aroma in wine. Before joining AWRI, Tracey spent over a decade in the pharmaceutical industry, gaining extensive experience in quality control, quality assurance, research and development, and medical research.
Paul Mason & Dave Shepherd
Paul was appointed to the position of winemaker at Martinborough Vineyard in 2007. He’s worked extensively in New Zealand with vintages at Villa Maria, Coopers Creek, and de Redcliffe and Villa Maria and has also worked in France, Italy, Chile, Australia and the US. Paul and his wife Amy live in Martinborough with their two children Alex and Lydia.
Dave, born and raised in Blenheim, joined the team at Martinborough Vineyard as the viticulturist in 2013. He served in similar roles at Escarpment, Craggy Range and Dog Point. Dave knows this region intimately having lived here for over 20 years and combines a love of the outdoors and hunting with raising a family of two children, Thora and Jock, with his wife Kirsty.
Mike Saunders & Dom Maxwell
Mike started his career as a wine grower in the cellar completing vintages for Esk Valley Estate in Hawkes Bay and Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley, Australia. He returned to New Zealand to run the iconic Esk Valley Terraces Vineyard for Villa Maria, while also accepting the role of grower liaison officer for Villa Maria Hawke’s Bay. Mike then moved to Neudorf in Nelson as Company Viticulturist. This gave Mike a totally different exposure to region and also scale, and he lists growing the Moutere Chardonnay as a huge privilege and career highlight.
The draw of returning home to Canterbury and eventually earning the role of Company Viticulturist for North Canterbury’s Greystone and Muddy Water Wines has been another amazing opportunity. Mike also enjoys his roles with the Young Viticulturist Competition, Organic Winegrowers NZ and as President of North Canterbury Winegrowers.
Dom has been at Greystone since inception back in 2004, as winemaker and overseeing development of style during this time. Time working in Oregon, Rheingau and Burgundy have helped form an integral part of Dom’s winemaking philosophy, whilst striving to continue a progressive approach to wine. In love with all wines that speak of place!
Brian Bicknell’s botany degree took on a whole new dimension when he started working weekends at an Auckland wine store. Drinking wine and learning about it became a passion and from then on, his university projects revolved around grapes.
His post-graduate study at Roseworthy College led to work at Coopers Creek, Selaks, Babich, and a vintage in Hungary at Nagyréde Estate with flying winemaker Kym Milne. After the flying winemaker experience Brian went on to become chief winemaker at Errázuriz in Chile in 1994. The industry was changing, and he was given free rein to try new things while focusing on quality. “It was a very creative time making new types of wines like the wild yeast Chardonnay and travelling madly to help market them.”
It was a natural progression to start his own wine company Mahi, in 2001. Mahi means “our work, our craft” in te Reo Māori and Brian focuses on single estate wines, as well as a Marlborough range, made very much as nature intended. “The style of winemaking is very hands-off. I want the vineyards to speak for themselves and produce wines with real palate satisfaction.”
Brian’s winemaking style has stayed true to his initial focus of creating textural wines with minimal intervention, and a healthy dose of experimentation along the way. In recent years, Brian has worked more and more with wild yeast, aging on lees and whole cluster pressing with Sauvignon. Going forward, he intends to continue to make wine with subtlety, texture, and balance, and get a better understanding of the unique vineyards of Marlborough.
Claire was born on a sheep and beef farm in Hawke’s Bay and returned to the region in 2002 to complete a Wine Science degree at EIT.
During her winegrowing career she has held various vineyard management and grower liaison roles and has also spent time working as a Technical Horticultural Representative for Fruitfed Supplies. She has been in her current role as Viticulturist with Church Road since 2018.
I’m a lover of all things Chardonnay and firmly believe we produce some of the best worldwide examples right here in our backyard!
BChris started his career at Church Road Winery in 1995, working part time in the vineyards and cellar door while studying for a degree in Wine Science at EIT and Charles Sturt University. In 1998 Chris joined the winery team full time in the cellar and aside from a brief two-year stint at Montana in Gisborne, has been part of the furniture ever since.
Chris took over the head Winemaker role in 2005 and quickly became older, greyer and balder. Up until 2002, Chris and the team worked with Bordeaux winemakers Domaine Cordier who bought a contrasting old-world perspective that has maintained an influence in winemaking philosophy at Church Road over the years.
Chris aims to produce wines of personality and complexity with a focus on texture and structure.
Richard is Director of Intellagents, a Marketing and Innovation consultancy based in Auckland New Zealand. After working in retail wine Richard was inspired to complete a Commerce degree majoring in Marketing. With a love of wine and marketing, Richard landed his first dream job as a Brand Manager for Montana Wines.
To gain more international experience, Richard then pursued a career in multinational marketing firstly with S C Johnson and then Gillette NZ successfully establishing the Oral-B brand and the revolutionary Power Brush category. Richard’s Gillette career took him to Australia and eventually North America as Country Manager of Oral-B Canada based in Toronto. After returning to New Zealand, Richard has been involved in FMCG and Tech start-ups as well as once again working on his first love, the beverage industry and wine.
During his varied career, Richard has marketed a wide range of beverage brands including Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, Jack Daniels, Grey Goose, 42 Below, Kim Crawford, Villa Maria, Matua, Montana Wines, Pol Roger, Lindauer, Deutz, Pure Blonde and Appletiser. Richard was marketing lead for the seven year NZ Lighter Wines initiative, at the time New Zealand’s largest wine research project, and more recently works with NZ Winegrowers on Intel and Insights.
And more to follow….