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Eco Success at Hunters Wines Print E-mail
Written by Frank Corr   
Monday, 11 June 2012 07:38


Frank Corr meets Jane Hunter

The Tui bird has returned to Marlborough, New Zealand, thanks in some part to the conservation efforts of winemaker Jane Hunter, who planted a ‘native garden’ on the family estate in 2000. The mix of swamp, forest and wetland has re-created an environment which had largely disappeared from the region and it has encouraged native birds like the Tui to breed again.

‘The numbers are increasing’, says Jane, during a visit to Dublin. ‘The local Council has now joined in the programme and has set up a register of sightings.’

Like most New Zealand wine-makers Jane has a keen sense of preserving the environment. She is part of a large group which set out to achieve sustainable wine growing throughout the industry and she is pleased to report that they are on target to achieve their goal this year. ‘In addition to being good for the environment, it enhances the brand image of New Zealand wines’, she says.

Hunters is to the forefront of this movement and is now accredited as carbon neutral.

Born in Australia and trained as a viticulturalist, Jane moved to New Zealand in the 1980s and married Belfast-born Ernie Hunter who had bought a farm in Marlborough where he was growing a wide variety of grapes. They began to produce some acclaimed wines, winning awards in New Zealand and Europe. But tragedy struck in 1987 when Ernie was killed in a motor accident. Jane  took over the running of  his wine business together with winemaker Gary Duke  and Peter McDermod who became general manager. They developed the international reputation of Hunter wines with an emphasis on consistently high quality and developed a close relationship with distributors in export market, including Gilbeys in Ireland.

Wines Add Value to Thorn Clarke Print E-mail
Written by Frank Corr   
Friday, 25 May 2012 07:45

samclarkeIf you grow grapes, you will eventually want to make wine- and that is what happened to the Thorn Clarke family in Australia’s Barossa Valley. For six generations the family had been farming with grapes as its principal crop. They developed an enviable expertise in viticulture and their grapes were in high demand from local winemakers.  They had a special interest in geology and this prompted them to explore areas where various grape varieties would realise their full potential. Where they saw promise, they bought and cultivated the land, so that by the end of the 20th Century they owned more than 700ha of vineyards- very sizeable even by Australian norms.

A new century brought a new departure for the family and in 2001Thorn Clarke released its first wines to the world.

‘It was the culmination of decisions taken some years earlier’, says the company’s ceo Sam Thorn, when we meet in Bray. ‘We knew that we grew some of the best grapes in the Barossa and it was a natural progression to convert them into wines. It involved a lot of planning and investment in a modern winery- but it decided the future of our family business.’

Sam lives on the family’s Kabininge vineyard near Tanunda with wife Helen and daughters Hannah and Jasmin.  An accountant by profession, he worked in industry before joining the family business which he co-owns with David, Cheryl and Nicole Clarke

Thorn Clarke took a decision to enter export markets from the very beginning. ‘We launched on the home and export markets simultaneously’, says Sam. ‘We needed to establish our brand in the major markets and we did this by seeking out successful distributors of quality wines.  Our initial target markets were in North America and Europe where we achieved success, but we have found the UK market to be very tough.’

What the Deutz? Print E-mail
Written by Frank Corr   
Monday, 19 March 2012 08:30


The Deutz Champagne House is unusual in that it was established in 1838 by two Germans, William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert Geldermann. Astute businessmen they handed a thriving business to their children and by 1882 Deutz had become a founding member of the all-powerful Syndicat des Grandes Marques. It has remained a family business, which over several generations, has bought up some of the prime vineyards in Champagne at Ogerr, Bisseuil, Pierry and its home village of Ay.

Fabrice Rosset has been ceo since 1996 when the business was acquired by the Rouzaud family. He was born in Epernay in the heart of Champagne and is a manager rather than a winemaker, having worked for many years with Louis Roederer. Over the years he also developed his wine-tasting skills and to-day all Deutz blends are created under his supervision.

Fabrice was in Dublin for a tasting of  Deutz Champagnes which are renowned for their traditional style and the inclusion of only classic wines in the blends.

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