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speaker bios 

  • Creating resilience by partnering with nature
    Jono Frew, Natural Performance Ltd.

    Jono Frew is a passionate leader in the agriculture sector. From an early career as an award-winning farmer and agronomist in the competitive conventional ag sector, to managing a large organic sheep, beef and mixed cropping farm, Jono has learned by doing and being open to learning.Having gained a broad perspective and knowledge from going through the transition from conventional to regenerative himself, Jono is now a “big picture” regenerative agriculture coach. Jono stands for bringing people and knowledge together and helping farmers reach new levels of profitability, resilience, joy and peace of mind on their farms and in their lives.

  • A biodiverse vineyard is full of possibilities
    Vaughn Bell, Senior Scientist, Plant and Food Research

    Vaughn Bell is a Senior Scientist working for The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research. Since 2004, he has researched sap-feeding mealybugs in vineyards, with an emphasis on their ecology, biology and ability to transmit (vector) grapevine leafroll virus. By examining the inter-relationship between the vine, virus and vector, his findings contributed to the development of a practical and financially sustainable virus management approach. In addition, Vaughn has investigated ways the vineyard ecosystem might be used (or developed) to minimise the influence of insect pests, and how these changes might help beneficial insects like parasitoids exert greater influence over insect pests like mealybugs.

  • An organic opportunity: The rise of the conscious consumer
    Sarah Szegota, Head of Marketing and Communication, Villa Maria Estate

    As Head of Marketing and Communication at Villa Maria Estate, Sarah Szegota leads the development and execution of effective marketing strategies globally. Having spent over 15 years in wine marketing, Sarah is passionate about growing awareness and affinity for the Villa Maria brands and connecting with consumers in meaningful ways.After graduating with a first-class degree in Art History from Nottingham University, Sarah cut her teeth in the UK wine trade, got a few WSET qualifications under her belt and hasn’t left the industry since. In previous roles her experience has spanned digital marketing, PR, corporate communications, new product development, and brand management across key wine markets domestically and internationally.Sarah is a big believer in the power of storytelling and is a proud founding member and ongoing supporter of Women in Wine NZ. With two young daughters at home, Sarah is still working out the work/life juggle and can be often found wrangling her children on Northland’s beaches.

  • Organic viticulture in the Gimblett Gravels and beyond
    Jonathan Hamlet, National Vineyards Manager, Craggy Range

    With 20 years experience in the New Zealand wine industry since studying viticulture and oenology, Jonathan has recently joined Craggy Range as National Vineyards Manager. This role oversees Craggy Range’s grape production in Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough. Previously, his experience across a number of producers in Hawke’s Bay led to him becoming Hawke’s Bay Regional Viticulturist for Villa Maria. During this time Jonathan forged extensive experience in organic viticulture, and served as Chair of Organic Winegrowers NZ for four years. Jonathan also currently sits on the research advisory committee for the Bragato Research Institute.
    Jonathan has a passion for exciting and exceptional wines that express their individual sites. He is excited about the huge potential in the Craggy Range vineyards, and is motivated to lead the viticultural team to innovate and produce great wine.


  • How to prepare for organic conversion in the vineyard
    Paul Robinson, Hawke’s Bay Regional Viticulturist, Villa Maria Estate

    Paul Robinson is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Viticulturist for Villa Maria. In this role he oversees the intake of all of the Hawke’s Bay fruit from Villa Maria’s company-owned and grower vineyards.
    Prior to this he was Vineyard Manager of Villa Maria’s Joseph Soler and Te Awa vineyards, where over time the team converted a number of blocks to organic production, reaching a current total of over 60 hectares. These vineyards contribute a large part of Villa Maria’s new organic range of wines under the Earthgarden label, and Paul is very excited that vintage 2021 will see their first organic Chardonnay released as a company.
    Paul has a passion for growing organically, and enjoys the challenge of exploring more sustainable ways to grow our vineyards.


  • The changing face of organic wine in a market of diverse motivations
    Stephen Wong MW, Wine educator & hospitality consultant, Wine Sentience
    Malaysian-born Chinese, Stephen moved from Borneo to Singapore and finally New Zealand to study Law at Otago. While studying, he worked in cafés and clubs DJ-ing before moving in 2000 to Central Otago, where his journey into wine started in vineyards. Shortly after his Barrister examinations in Wellington, he started sommelier work, learning on the job. Since then, he has moved into a consulting role, helping restaurants and hotels in New Zealand and Singapore with their wine programs. He now runs Wine Sentience – a small hospitality support and education business in Wellington – hosting tastings and organising wine events for trade and public. He sits on the Institute of Masters of Wine’s education and diversity/transformation committees. In 2020, he co-founded Stompy, an online wine service launching in the US.


  • Making natural wine: Panel discussion
    Amy Farnsworth, Winemaker, Amoise Wines

    Amoise Wines is an artisanal wine label run by Amy Farnsworth in Hawke’s Bay. Arriving in New Zealand in 2009, Amy landed in Central Otago, where she fell in love with biodynamic farming. She completed her diploma in viticulture and winemaking in Beaune, leading to several vintages with hardworking organic vignerons in France and around the world.
    Amoise works with certified organic grapes sourced locally in Hawke’s Bay because she believes in responsible farming, improving the health of our soils and taking care with what we put into our bodies. This is why she produces wines with no additions or adulterations of any kind.

    Hayden Penny, Winemaker, Te Awanga Estate
    Hayden has been growing and making wine organically in Hawke’s Bay for over 10 years. He has pioneered natural winemaking in Hawke's Bay, and has been making natural wines since 2013, previously with Supernatural Wine Co.
    Now with Te Awanga Estate, Hayden is taking their vineyards through organic conversion and certification, and is bringing his minimal intervention philosophies to their winemaking.

    Amy Hopkinson-Styles & Olly Styles, Halcyon Days
    Amy and Olly Hopkinson-Styles both entered the wine world in 2003, but while Olly was writing about it, Amy was making it. The pair met in London five years later, and Olly moved to Spain to be with Amy – and to start his winemaking journey in Europe and NZ. Fast-forward a decade and the husband-and-wife team started Halcyon Days in 2018. Given the wines that interested them, Halcyon Days was always going to be a minimal-intervention project – making pure wines that are refreshing to drink and reflect their place. Organic viticulture and organic certification have always been integral to that vision.

  • The Sustainable Vineyard Floor Project: Year two – A vineyard management perspective
    Odette Preston, Vineyard Manager, Villa Maria Estate

    Odette has worked with Villa Maria for the past seven years in a number of roles, starting in the nursery at Vineyard Plants and progressing back into the vineyard proper as Technical Officer of the Villa Maria Hawke’s Bay Vineyards.
    When the opportunity came up in 2019 to step into an assistant manager’s role as part of the solid team at Villa Maria’s Te Awa and Joseph Soler Vineyards, it felt like a natural progression in her career path.
    Recently Odette took over the reins from Paul Robinson as Manager and now seeks to continue the immense work and forward thinking of her predecessors Paul and Jonathan in maintaining and further developing the organic vineyards at Te Awa and Joseph Soler.


  • Organic and regenerative: The big picture (video presentation)
    Robyn O’Brien, Vice President, rePlant Capital

    Robyn O’Brien is the Vice President of rePlant Capital, an impact investment firm, deploying integrated capital from soil to shelf in order to reverse climate change and support farmers in their conversion of farmland from conventional to organic agriculture. Robyn is a leader in the good food movement and an advocate for organics.
    Robyn adjusted the direction of her career after her daughter had a life-threatening allergic reaction to breakfast. She has since written a bestseller book (The Unhealthy Truth), delivered a 2011 TEDx talk viewed more than a million times, and become a sought-after food industry advisor, public speaker and media personality. She also works with legislators, trade associations, grocery chains, some of the world’s largest multinational food companies and some of its most powerful startups to better understand the changing landscape of consumer behaviour and expectations while navigating in a broken food system.


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