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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.

  • Regenerative viticulture: Experiences in cover cropping
    Bart Arnst, Viticultural Consultant / The Darling Wines
    Bart is an organic viticultural consultant and is viticulturist at The Darling Wines. He began his cover crop journey in 1996 when working for Montana Wines. After researching all the benefits that could be gained from a multispecies midrow sward, he put together a mix (with help from Bruce Clarke of Kiwi Seed) to encompass all those perceived benefits. This mix led to a collaboration with the late Prof. Steve Wratten of Lincoln University and the research on buckwheat plantings to control light brown apple moth.
    Bart sees the opportunity to maximise the vineyard area by introducing plants that will enhance the growing environment, improving the land and New Zealand wine’s sustainability credentials.

    Mike Saunders, Viticulturist, Greystone Wines
    Mike started his career as a winegrower in the cellar completing vintages for Esk Valley Estate in Hawke’s Bay and Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley, Australia. He returned to help run the iconic Esk Valley Terraces Vineyard, eventually taking over management of the block. Combining this with the grower liaison role for Villa Maria broadened his exposure to many different viticultural growing systems. Moving to Neudorf in Nelson as Company Viticulturist gave a totally different exposure to region and also scale. Growing the Moutere Chardonnay was a huge privilege and massive learning curve. 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 North Canterbury Winegrowers.

  • Lessons from organic conversion: Panel discussion
    Pete Chapman, Viticulturist, Terrace Edge Wines

    It all began with our family innocently visiting a Marlborough vineyard and olive grove on a summer holiday in 1999. Three months later, filled with excitement, we purchased a sunny terrace overlooking the Waipara River, in North Canterbury. What started as a weekend family project soon developed into a time-consuming, out of control hobby. I found myself in English class dreaming about soil types, earthworms and Pinot Noir clones. Not normal behaviour for a 17-year-old! After leaving school I continued to feed my appetite by studying at Lincoln University. Since then, for the last 18 years, I have been managing the Terrace Edge vineyard, which was fully certified organic in 2014.

    Callum Linklater, Windrush Organic
    Callum was raised on an organic sheep and beef farm and now is a second generation organic producer. He has been a contract grape grower since 2009. In 2018, Callum and his wife released their own range of wines under the Windrush brand. Their family own 25 hectares of certified organic vineyards in the Wairau Valley over three seperate sites. More recently, Callum has set up a contract management company with business partner Stuart Dudley. They provide a comprehensive management and contracting service to a range of clients in the Marlborough region. Callum also sits on the board of Wine Marlborough and has done so since 2015.  

    Nigel Sowman, Viticulturist, Dog Point Vineyards
    Born and raised in Marlborough, Nigel graduated with a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in 2000. While on a graduate scholarship Nigel worked in South Australia and then in California at the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria. In 2002, not long after his return to Marlborough, Nigel joined the newly formed Dog Point Vineyards team as the company’s viticulturist. He has been with the company ever since. Dog Point is New Zealand's largest organic certified vineyard. During his time at Dog Point, Nigel has taken a leading role in developing the property’s organic regime and heads up the vineyard team.
    Jared White, Audit Manager, BioGro New Zealand

    Audit Manager for BioGro New Zealand, Jared has worked for BioGro in a range of roles for 22 years. In that time he has visited over 800 certified organic properties in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, including almost all of New Zealand’s 150+ certified organic vineyards. He now provides technical support in organic regulations for the viticulture sector, manages BioGro's team of auditors, and is part of BioGro’s core management team. He is a long-time member of the Organic Winegrowers New Zealand executive committee.

  • Organic in the marketplace: Local and global opportunities
    Charlotte Read, GM Marketing, New Zealand Winegrowers

    Charlotte has over 20 years of international sales and marketing experience – from launching New Zealand milk brands in Asia, to reinvigorating wine store formats in the UK, to managing the sales and distribution of New Zealand wines in over 40 countries across Europe and Asia. Whilst based in China, Charlotte joined NZ Trade and Enterprise, based at the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing. Upon returning to New Zealand, she soon returned to the wine industry, becoming NZ Winegrowers’ GM of Marketing in late 2019. Charlotte leads a team based both in New Zealand and in key export markets to deliver a programme of initiatives to assist, protect and strengthen the premium reputation of New Zealand wine.

    Steve Smith MW, Managing Director, Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates
    A graduate of Lincoln University, Steve holds a Master of Wine from the Institute of Masters of Wine in London – the first viticulturist in the world to hold this title. He was awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal for outstanding contribution to the New Zealand Wine Industry in 2014 and was named one of the 50 most influential people in the world of wine by Decanter in 1999. Steve has spent his entire life since leaving high school in the New Zealand wine industry, first as an academic, then in business with Villa Maria, followed by co-founding Craggy Range, and for 16 years leading the business as CEO. More recently he co-founded and is Managing Director of both the Smith & Sheth Wine Company and Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates, which owns Pyramid Valley and Lowburn Ferry. He has consulted widely within the global wine industry on both viticulture and wider wine business strategy, and led the creation of the Family of Twelve and the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association, as well as serving a term as an elected director of New Zealand Winegrowers between 2005 and 2010.

    Stephen Wong MW, Wine educator and 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.

  • Soil: Building the house
    Rebecca Lawrence and Lachy Hynd, Soil consultants, Soil Matters

    Lachy graduated with a science degree, followed by a lifetime of experience in fruit growing in both organic and conventional systems across a range of crop types. The last 20 years has involved many facets of the wine industry, experiencing the challenges of this industry from a variety of perspectives. Latterly, the opportunity to join Soil Matters and focus on everything pertaining to improving soil health has provided a reconnection to his roots as a grower and his love of the natural world.
    Rebecca joined the Soil Matters team over a decade ago, having worked in the wine and viticulture industry for 12 years previously. With a science background, which includes a Bachelor of Science degree and 10 years as a laboratory manager, Rebecca has an understanding of the processes involved in the soil, soil biology, plants and their interactions. This carries through to the field, where she helps farmers and growers realise the full potential of their farming systems, using natural inputs and with respect for what nature can do.


  • Making wine natural: Winemaker panel discussion
    Clive Dougall, Co-founder and Winemaker, Deep Down Wines

    Most of Clive’s winemaking journey has been spent discovering the boundaries of what’s possible when trying to remove some or all additions to wine, while ensuring premium quality, drinkability and ‘deliciousness’. He made the first certified organic wine in Marlborough back in 2007. Most recently, he co-founded Deep Down Wines, focused on low-intervention, small-batch organic winemaking. Previously he spent 12 years as winemaker at Seresin Estate, moving from assistant winemaker to head winemaker and eventually taking responsibilities for the vineyard’s organic and biodynamic growing as well. Clive has always been driven to show that there is a different (better!) way to approach winegrowing in Marlborough and New Zealand that respects the environment and arguably ends with a more interesting wine.

    Dom Maxwell, Winemaker, Greystone Wines
    Dom’s approach to making wine has been an evolution of undoing things. Working on the same vineyard with new vines that are now 17 years old, there has been plenty of change to witness, explore and learn about in the search for making wines that have their own voice. Dom has been at Greystone since 2004 and making the Muddy Water wines since 2011. Overseas vintages throughout this time have provided perspective and encouragement for the great things that are happening in North Canterbury and the future we have as winegrowers. Dom was named NZ Winemaker of the Year in 2011 and 2018.

    Ben Weaver, Vineyard and Winery Production Manager, Churton Wines
    Ben grew up on his parents’ 65-hectare organic property, surrounded by cattle, vines and wine. He went to Marlborough Boys College before moving to Wellington to study at Victoria University, determined to never spend another holiday bud-rubbing in the vineyard. After completing his studies in chemistry and media, the idea of going back to the wine industry began to sound more interesting than ever before. In 2012 Ben returned to Marlborough and began running the Churton vineyard under the careful guidance of his father. That was also the year of his first vintage in the winery. This is where the passion and enthusiasm really took off. Working overseas at Bonnie Doon winery in California, he was in charge of wild fermentations and the buildup of yeast populations using a Pied de Cuve. This experience massively influenced the way he now approaches winemaking and vineyard management at Churton. Ben and his brother Jack have since started their own little journey, in parallel to Churton, called Natural State – pushing towards low to no-intervention wines, with huge focus on regenerative viticulture and farming.

  • 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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