Q&A – Melanie Brown, New Zealand Wine Cellar29.06.17 | Kirsty Taylor
We meet Melanie Brown from the New Zealand Wine Cellar who shares her tips about her home country with us, and a little about wine too!
Where in New Zealand do you come from?
Originally Auckland, but was lucky to complete my apprenticeship in Christchurch, so have the pleasure of experiencing both the North and South Islands.
What brought you to the UK?
Discovery! I wanted to explore new cultures and experience the world, London was the perfect place to base myself to travel and explore this side of the world.
Tell us a little about the New Zealand Cellar?
We’ve got the largest selection of NZ wine in the Northern Hemisphere! Creating an online wine shop of the very best bottles by some of the lesser known producers of New Zealand was ambitious. I wanted to create a portfolio of wines that showcased the integrity of our amazing wine industry and the people within it. Soon after we launched our online offering we opened our first store in Brixton and it’s been astonishing to witness the amazing recognition of New Zealand wine in the UK.
What makes New Zealand wine so special?
I believe NZ wine has character and personality, due to our wonderful climate and special terroir our wines are vibrant and intriguing.
Where is your favourite spot in New Zealand?
This is a ridiculously hard question because New Zealand has almost every landscape the world has to offer in a country similar in size to the UK. However because everyone knows NZ for its majestic alpine, mountains, fiordland – I’d go for the opposite – think pristine white sand, amazing unspoiled beaches and some of the best sailing, diving and coast in Northland. There is an incredible property up there called Eagles Nest on the island of Russell. The view from any of its villas is hard to beat!
What advice would you give a first-time visitor?
For wine lovers, explore the Classic NZ Wine Trail taking you from Hawke’s Bay through to Marlborough via Wellington – Marlborough produces over 70% of New Zealand wine and is the home of Sauvignon Blanc with some incredible wineries – a great place to start. There are a few absolute gems nearby such as the boutique property; Bay of Many Coves in the Queen Charlotte Sounds, Marlborough is more than wine – the Sounds are amazing for sailing, watersports such as kayaking (look out for dolphins!). There are some great walks and cycles along the Queen Charlotte track. The new Marlborough Lodge just opened in November 2016 too.
How about a 2nd or 3rd time visitor?
New Zealand is incredibly diverse, although it’s a small country in size there’s so much to see. Central Otago is the most southerly wine growing region in the world, iconic for Pinot Noir. New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown is the gateway to Otago and there are endless adventures to be had throughout this area and Fiordland. I would recommend organising an exclusive tasting and some ‘meet the winemaker’ experiences, and heading back after a full day out to somewhere like Eichardts Private Hotel in Queenstown, or Matakauri Lodge will top it off!
Food & wine tourism is growing in popularity, why do you think that is and what can one expect on a visit to New Zealand for a themed trip such as this?
I think people want to ‘experience’ rather than just ‘visit’ these days, which is why New Zealand is such a bucket list destination in this regard. People want dining ‘experiences’, it’s more than just the food, and they want to know that it’s local. To understand how exquisite New Zealand’s food & wine product is, you just have to look at our Luxury Lodges of New Zealand – all 28 properties are incredibly unique to its surroundings, so the settings are outstanding, and they’re world class when it comes to the farm to table ethos – local produce and with hosted experiences, complete with incredible wine cellars!
And finally, if you could be anywhere in New Zealand right now, where would it be and why?
Right now, with the madness of 2016, I could do with something that New Zealand does incredibly well – which is the ultimate retreat, away from it all. The epitome of this is Minaret Station, in the Mount Aspiring National Park – luxury chalets only accessible by helicopter in one of the most incredible spots mother nature could offer.