I spent the afternoon yesterday in Hawke’s Bay, tasting wine with Grant Edwards, Chief Winemaker at Sileni Estates. Prior to my arrival, Grant emailed back and forth with me about his time at the winery, his winemaking philosophy, and Semillon, the misunderstood grape.
A little info on the winery, from their website:
Sileni Estates is named after the Sileni who featured in Roman mythology alongside Bacchus, the god of wine. They celebrated good wine, good food and good company.
Sileni boasts a state of the art winery designed to crush over 1500 tonnes of grapes. Our Winemaking Team have honed their winemaking skills in wineries around the world and we strive to maintain high standards in environmentally sustainable viticultural and winemaking practices. Sileni Estates produce hand crafted wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyards.
Signature Wines and Prices:
- Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – RRP (NZ) $17
- The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay – RRP (NZ) $30
- The Triangle Hawkes Bay Merlot – RRP (NZ) $32
What philosophy guides your viticulture and/or enology? We want to make wines that are accessible and food-friendly.
What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker (e.g., volatility of Mother Nature, expense to income ratio, having to actually market your wine)? Getting consumer share of mind.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of grapegrowing and winemaking in your region? Benefits include high growing degree days, or GDD (esp. for reds), large areas of gravel based soils, well-established horticultural infrastructure, and a major port. Drawbacks include distance to main domestic consumption centres, weather volatility at harvest, and a small local population.
What excites you most about New Zealand wines right now? The fact that we are still one of the few growth categories in many world markets – much of the world still doesn’t know about us.
How do you think Americans (or the outside world in general) perceive NZ wines? I imagine there’s probably very little information available for them to base an opinion on. If anything, they might be surprised that we make wine, that we make good wine, that we make anything other than Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
What is your favorite non-kiwi wine region? Least? Tuscany. Champagne.
Which wine or grape (in the world) is the least understood or respected? Semillon. Makes great dry table wine if treated with
What do you drink at home when relaxing? Sileni Semillon, Italian reds, GSM, and Merlot.
How do you spend your free time (if you have any)? Orienteering, reading, and gardening.
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? China.
Give one surprising fact about yourself. Raised two children and still have some hair…