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Interview: Douglas Renall talks about 100 Great New Zealand Wineries


Douglas Renall has recently written 100 Great New Zealand Wineries, he talks to NZ Booklovers about his book.


100 Great New Zealand Wineries – why do we need this book?

If you love New Zealand wine then this book is made for you. If you are looking for guidance and inspiration for a memorable wine trip around New Zealand then you need this book.


How did you decide which wineries to include in the book?

The wineries were chosen after taking into consideration the history, charisma, cellar-door atmosphere, quality of wine produced, awards won, wine critic ratings and the impact the winery has had both at home and abroad. The wineries were also chosen to provide a balanced spread over all the wine-producing regions around the country, including Northland, Matakana, Kumeu, Waiheke Island, Clevedon, Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara, Canterbury and Central Otago.


Why do you think New Zealand produces so many excellent wines?

I believe New Zealand has a great foundation in which to produce world-class wines. Our country has excellent Terroir – meaning our soils, combined with a suitable climate make for disease-free, concentrated grapes to ripen. Also, many of our winemakers have now experienced countless vintages which is also a big factor for why we produce excellent wines.


What is your advice on visiting wineries?

My advice would be to visit only a few wineries each day and stay a while. Take your time to check out the vineyards, try the cuisine and taste the wines slowly. For the enthusiast I would also suggest taking a small notepad for tasting notes which is a good way to hone your wine tasting skills. The cellar door staff are often goldmines for information on the wines you are tasting so it is a great environment to taste the wines and learn more.


Is it true that you learned photography so that you could take all the photos for this book?

Yes, I made it one of my missions to learn how to use a DSLR camera in order to take my own photos. It was a great experience to travel around New Zealand and take countless shots for the book. Photography is an art form and I love the feeling when all the elements for a great photo come together resulting in a memorable picture.


How did you become interested in wine?

My interest for wine started while growing up in west Auckland where vineyards have been part of the landscape for more than 120 years. While growing up I would visit vineyards on the weekends with friends and family and I quickly realised that I loved the winemaking lifestyle. The tug towards the wine industry grew in my early 20’s after travelling around Europe where I was introduced to the cultures of Germany, Italy and France. By my mid 20’s I knew I would someday become a winemaker and work in the wine industry around the world.


Are you currently working in the wine industry?

Yes I am currently working in Bordeaux, France for Chateau Langoa & Leoville Barton. Here I have been working in the cellar as an assistant winemaker, doing various types of jobs. A normal day could include everything from digging out a Cuve to filling wine barrels to cleaning equipment to vertical wine tastings of the last 10 vintages of Chateau Langoa and Leoville Barton.


What would be your dream job working with wine?

My dream job has always been to work as chief winemaker for a good winery. I also want to be in a position where I can be creative with further books on wine.


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