Steve Smith MW lessens involvement at Craggy Range
Steve Smith MW, the public face of New Zealand’s Craggy Range winery since it started 17 years ago, is scaling down his involvement to enable him to follow other projects.
Smith co-founded Craggy Range (tastings) with owner Terry Peabody in 1998. He describes this opportunity to lead the new wine venture as “something extremely rare and precious for someone like me. It allowed me to dive into, boots and all, the whole thing from vineyards to wine to architecture to brand to business and linking them together seamlessly.” Entire immersion for 16 years, as he describes it.
From July 1, he will no longer have the management and leadership role he’s had since the start.
“I will remain close to Craggy Range in my continuing role as a member of our board of directors and in my new advisory role with the operational, management and leadership teams. Craggy will always continue to be a part of my professional and personal life, but for the future Craggy will be part of a wider sphere of professional and personal interests.”
I clearly recall Steve giving me and a posse of wine-scribes our first look at Hawkes Bay’s Gimblett Gravels, where Craggy Range was one of the pioneers. I’ll never forget seeing those vines growing out of the rocks – the ‘soil’ looked like pure river stones in some places. So poor was the soil, the vines depended on irrigation. There was one vine where the dripper wasn’t dripping, and it wasn’t just looking stressed, it was dead! The Gimblett Gravels made Chateauneuf-du-Pape look like the Garden of Eden. But the wines, as we know now, are sensational. Low vigour, low yields, small berries… almost total control of the vine’s growth via the water tap.
Craggy Range is now globally famous, and was voted 2014 New World Winery of the Year by US magazine Wine Enthusiast.
Meanwhile, chief winemaker Matt Stafford called in last week with the latest trio in Craggy’s prestige collection: Le Sol Syrah (tastings), Sophia Merlot Cabernet (tastings), and Aroha Te Muna Pinot Noir (tastings), all from the excellent 2013 vintage. They are superb wines, especially the Sophia and Le Sol, which are of course both from the Gimblett Gravels. The tasting notes will be posted on the app in a couple of weeks.