Updated: Nov 20, 2018
We had far too much fun pioneering the inaugural organic wine week.
We were overwhelmed by the positive response from producers, restaurants and retailers alike when we pitched them our concept of raising awareness for New Zealand’s organic wine through a dedicated week of celebration. We didn’t want the week to be “just another wine event!” so put significant effort into developing a calendar that offered diversity of style, price point, and location. We were excited by the calibre of venues and producers that jumped on board and as you’ll read following, Organic Wine Week exceeded all expectations.
Here is the highlight reel!
Shepherd: A little bit playful sums up Shepherd’s Organic Wine Week dinner… but also emulates their approach to dining every day. Shepherd is a master at presenting a myriad of flavours and textures in perfect harmony whilst eliminating any pretentiousness and dialling up the pleasure. For Organic Wine Week, Shepherd and his team created an evening that was highly engaging for the guests as well as the winemakers. They challenged each winemaker to pair two wines to two different courses, creating some light-hearted competition that kept the conversation lively as well as educational. Five winemakers from five regions co-hosted the intimate evening of spectacular food, delicious wine and animated banter!
Arbour:We wondered for a moment if Liz and Bradley had bit off more than they could chew when they eagerly committed to a series of Organic Wine Week dinners. But boy did they deliver! And some!! Four nights in a row Arbour served impeccable cuisine amidst a relaxed and enthusiast environment. Arbour, being located in Blenheim, is a NZ winemaking epicentre so the team structured each night to have a local winemaker hosting an out-of-towner. In case you're wondering if you could indulge in more than one night, from personal experience we can confirm YES. Each night was unique - from revealing ‘stays on tour’ industry secrets, waxing lyrical about Winnie the Poo, through to imitating the Swedish chef from The Muppets to an actual visiting Swedish Ambassador… oh my! For those of you not familiar with the Swedish chef from The Muppets… here is a clip. And yes, this was Mr. Bart Arnst at his The Darling/Mammoth co-host dinner. Hilarious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7UmUX68KtE
Gatherings:Wine and oysters are a classic pairing. But when you add Alex of Gatherings to the mix who decides to do oysters 12 ways… what an epic journey for the tastebuds! The oyster menu was a la carte so guests were able to explore to their heart's content. The polish on the evening of course was the impressive line-up of Black Estate wines from the neighbouring North Canterbury region. Talk about an impressive combo! We had a ton of fun at Gatherings Christchurch. Their relaxed “no reservations” evening was further enhanced by live music, enthusiastic guests and an impressive light installation.
The Grove:We got a bit more serious for this slick evening and were wooed by a six course menu at The Grove, Auckland. Talk about exemplar service! The Grove showcased three regions in their People & Provenance dinner and took it to the next level of deliciousness by having the winemakers each bring an item of produce from their biodynamic farms. The wines shone on the night, with the selection shared by Burn Cottage, Churton and Millton complementing the evening perfectly. Though back to the food, arguably, the first course was many of the guests favourite - setting the tone for the night with an elegant beetroot tartare bright with shiso and sorrel.
Sherwood:Bringing Organic Wine Week to a close was Sherwood in Queenstown and they were not to be out done! The crew pulled together an impressive afternoon festival showcasing 10 producers from across NZ, an organic market, a couple wine seminars and a mouthwatering BBQ lunch. This we must repeat. An incredible afternoon that seamlessly entwining education within a social and delectable experience. Sherwood is a must visit to those of you unfamiliar. Their venue is undeniably unique - overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Sherwood presents as an understated accommodation provider but then impresses you at every corner with their people, facilities, gardens and awarded restaurant.
Whole Bunch:The team at Wine Sentience have created a very popular wine seminar series with a unique and innovative approach to their tastings program. Clive Dougall, member of our OWNZ Executive Board, kindly co-hosted the tasting with Stephen Wong MW and spoke to a cross section of wines and wineries. From small producers to large, from new to organics to the originals, unknown varieties to the classics - it was an impressive selection of member wines.
And then we headed overseas for two brilliant events in London, UK! Organic Wine Masterclass:This event was designed for trade guests and we were thrilled by a great turnout of London based media, buyers, retailers and sommeliers. Held at the NZ High Commission, we worked alongside the team at NZ Winegrowers for this impressive tasting. We were very lucky to have three member winemakers in the UK keen to co-host our masterclass: Rudi Bauer (Quartz Reef), Blair Walter (Felton Road), and Michael Seresin (Seresin Estate) spoke to an awesome line-up of NZ organic wine. The room listened with intent as the hosts shared insights into biodynamic wine production and discussed with great passion their rationale for farming organically.
New Zealand Cellar | Get Dirty TastingMel and her team pulled together an enchanting event for Organic Wine Week in London central. The ‘Get Dirty’ organic wine consumer event played host to over 80 wine fans and aficionados and showcased 18 of New Zealand’s finest organic producers. Throughout the two hour event guests were able to talk to the people behind the labels and learn first-hand what it means to make and grow wine organically. The Pop Brixton venue was stunning and the vibe was incredible. We’ll be back!
The inaugural Organic Wine Week was an overwhelming success. Social and print media have been buzzing… and we couldn’t have asked for more! Sept 17th to 23rd is set to be a fixture on the calendar moving forward. It is a week dedicated to discovering, sharing and enjoying the very best wine. Organic Winegrowers New Zealand will continue to lead the charge but we look forward to the message spreading further afield, incorporating many more countries and celebrating organic wine and produce across the globe.