NZ Winegrowers honour wine legends
Four wine industry stalwarts have been honoured for their outstanding service to the New Zealand wine industry at the 2017 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Joe Babich, Geoff Thorpe, Bill Spence and Lorraine Rudelj have been made Fellows of NZ Winegrowers, an accolade that recognises dedication and influence in New Zealand’s flourishing wine industry.
Joe Babich steered winemaking at Babich Wines away from fortified wines to high-quality table wines and has also made a valuable contribution as a senior wine judge.
I have an enormous respect for Geoff Thorpe and the rigorous standards of his Gisborne-based vine nursery, which he has navigated through challenging times like the post-2008 wine surplus when vineyard development virtually ceased for a few years.
Bill Spence, together with brother Ross Spence, made the country’s first sauvignon blanc in a tin shed in Swanson and went on to develop the successful wine company, Matua Valley. I’ve only played golf with Bill once and he’s as bad at the game as I am.
If I had to pick a “supreme” Fellow it would be Lorraine Rudelj, the receptionist at NZ Winegrowers for 37 years. I’m a frequent caller and can vouch for the fact that Lorraine has all the answers. When I hear her dulcet tones on the other end of the phone I know that everything is going to be alright.