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Featured Wineries

The 2015 Featured Wineries will be announced in early spring. Shown below are Featured Wineries from 2014.

Interested in being a Featured Winery in 2015? See Domestic Winery Participation or Foreign Winery Participation.

BODEGA CHACRA (General Roca, Rio Negro)
Represented by Piero Incisa

Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia. In 2004, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta, from the renowned winemaking family of Italy’s famed Sassicaia, purchased the first of the vineyard land, which is now Bodega Chacra. At the time the property had an existing, though abandoned, vineyard planted in 1932. Piero was drawn to the southern hemisphere with the goal of producing world-class Pinot noir from uncharted and untested territory. Chacra’s vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and this tiny estate is being carefully expanded. Five hectares were planted in front of their handsome winery in 2005. Winemaking at Bodega Chacra is approached in the most natural manner. Grapes from the 1932 vineyard are harvested by hand and no automated mechanization is used at any stage of the production process. As a result, Bodega Chacra obtains concentrated and complex wines of great purity that last long in mouth and contain flavors of flowers, fruits, and minerals.

AKARUA (Bannockburn, Central Otago)
Represented by Matt Connell & Kathryn Pettit

Matt Connell joined Central Otago producer Akarua, as winemaker and general manager at the end of 2008. Matt’s respect for the Akarua vineyard site in Bannockburn was a huge incentive in joining the company, as it is widely regarded as the “Grand Cru” sub region of Central Otago. Matt has achieved success for his wines at the highest level with many notable accolades. One of his recent highlights has been winning the Red Wine of Show and Pinot Noir Trophy at the Five Nations Wine Challenge 2012 in Sydney with the Akarua Pinot Noir 2010. His aim to make wines that typify the amazing terroir of Bannockburn, but most importantly wines that people love to drink. Matt also has a special fondness for Oregon – having worked as Assistant Winemaker with Elk Cove wines. When Matt’s not at the winery you will find him “checking irrigation” – in otherwords flyfishing! Or spending time with his American wife Beth and their two young children Emma and Noah.

MT. BEAUTIFUL WINES (Cheviot, North Canterbury)
Represented by Robert Watkins & Sam Weaver

Owner, scholar-entrepreneur, and New Zealand native David Teece, along with his wife Leigh, believes their homeland "produces some of the best products in the world and aficionados everywhere should have a chance to experience them." Mt. Beautiful Wines from North Canterbury reflect their passion for New Zealand. By producing elegant, certified-sustainable, estate-grown wines, David and Leigh have found a way to truly encapsulate in the bottle, the climate and the richness of the land. Mt. Beautiful is uncompromising in quality and faithful to the terroir. As pioneers of the North Canterbury region, David and Leigh were looking to invest in David’s homeland in a way that would allow expression of their passion for farm-to-table food and wine, while energizing the community to which they are so genuinely committed. By creating the Mt. Beautiful Vineyard and adopting certified-sustainable practices, they are able to be dedicated guardians of the land, and good stewards of their heritage.

VILLA MARIA ESTATE (Blenheim, Marlborough)
Represented by Alastair Maling, MW & Jennifer Scott

The winemaking career of Alastair Maling, MW, has led him to many continents and a wealth of experience with an impressive range of varietals, working vintages in Hungary, Hawkes Bay, France, California, and South Africa among others. Alastair has a Master of Wine qualification and resides in New Zealand, as the winemaker and viticulturalist at Villa Maria Estate. He is responsible for the viticulture and winemaking at Esk Valley, Thornbury and Vidal as well. He sits on the Villa Maria senior leadership team and is heavily involved in overseas market visits. Alastair was named in the Decanter Wine magazine (2003) as one of five young New Zealanders to “watch out for” in the wine industry. He has also been honored with Winemaker of the Year at the Royal Easter Wine Show a number of times – in 2004, 2005, 2008 and again in 2011.

WOOING TREE VINEYARD (Cromwell, Central Otago)
Represented by Steve Farquharson & Michelle Morpeth

While working in the United Kingdom but yearning to return home, Steve and Thea Farquharson, along with Jane (Steve’s sister) and Geoff Bews, decided to join forces and find an ideal spot in Central Otago to make wine. In 2002 in Cromwell amidst their newly acquired land full of trees, the unknowing owners learned one of these trees had quite a history. The ancient tree, known as the “Wooing Tree,” commanded a place in local lore as a lovers’ rendezvous. This solved the problem of coming up with a vineyard and wine label name. Today, the Wooing Tree is a popular place for weddings and marriage proposals and now sits prominently in the middle of the vineyard. The family owned and operated single vineyard site specializes in Pinot noir, Rosé, a still Blanc de Noir ‘Blondie&rqsuo;, and sticky Late Harvest ‘Tickled Pink’ from the same varietal. The first vintage from the site in 2005 resulted in a stunning Pinot noir, which won the Open Red Wine Trophy at the Air NZ Wine Awards. Wooing Tree has gathered a truly remarkable following, collecting seven trophies, many gold medals, and praise from wine writers and wine lovers around the world.