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Top white wines of 2020 (for under $25)

Top 24  white wines of 2020 from the New World Wine Awards. Best Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris & more. Affordable and delicious - just in time for Summer.

We’re truly spoiled for choice in New Zealand with the incredible range of white wines we have on offer. From light and aromatic, to crisp and zingy, or the rich, creamy and robust. 

Our guide to the best New Zealand white wines has something for everyone. Better still, they are all gold medal-winners and under $25 per bottle.


Waiata Waipara Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cut grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry

Judges Comments:

A great example of Waipara Sauvignon Blanc, from just north of Christchurch. Waiata vineyard promotes fruit driven wines and here they deliver in bucket loads. The classic flavours of cool climate Sauvignon, which New Zealand is famous for, are all here. Gooseberry, leafy herbs, green bean sprouts balanced with exquisite crunchy acidity, a real head turner.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Ripe pear

Judges Comments:

A fine wine made with a masterful artisan touch from one of New Zealand’s most consistent labels. A Champion wine from a champion producer, perfect to pair with mozzarella, especially when it’s on a pizza. A fine and delicate but juicy palate, with aromas and flavours of pear drops and fresh Du Comice pear, concentrated and balanced with bright acidity.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Church Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Creamy, peach, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

In a year of incredibly spectacular wines, to be awarded Champion, a wine needs to be something very special, which is exactly what this Chardonnay is. The finish is elegant and generous - wonderful on its own, but pair it with smoked chicken and you have a whole new dimension. Starting with really concentrated ripe peach and nectarine aromas, the palate is creamy with rich texture and well-structured by firm acidity.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Sustainable winegrowing, vegan friendly

Judges Comments:

Grown in the gravels of Marlborough, the reflected sun from the stones adds intensity to the ripening process and local indigenous yeast gives a complexity and flavour to the finished wine. Perfect with fresh Marlborough produce, the wine is rich, ripe and textural with loads of concentrated fruit and acid to provide balance and length. Appealing flinty characters giving a touch of struck flint complexity, a well-made and polished example.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


te Pā Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Citrus, creamy, grapefruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

From a winery with extraordinary sites of great historic value, try this Chardonnay with grilled portobello mushrooms, cooked with grated lemon rind, parsley and a small squeeze of garlic – perfect with crusty bread as a light lunch or served as evening tapas. The wine has beautiful aromas of perfumed white flowers and citrus. The palate is creamy with textured richness and flavours of pink grapefruit and well-integrated vanilla oak.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $20 to $25
Key flavours: Citrus, grapefruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

This is a classic cool climate Chardonnay that will knock your socks off with a lunch of poached salmon and potato hash, with lots of fresh leafy herbs and, of course, plenty of friends. From Marlborough, a cooler region, so showing attractive citrus characters of mandarin skin and grapefruit pith. Lovely acid balances the fruit and beautifully integrated vanilla oak stretch through into a lingering finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Riesling 2018

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Citrus, floral, grapefruit, lemon zest, lime, white blossom

Judges Comments:

This Riesling is dry with beautiful grapefruit marmalade flavours and is both focused and youthful with juicy lemony acidity and texture. The flavours seem endless, which is why it’s this year’s Champion. Riesling is not only a great value wine, it’s also one of the most food-friendly wines complimenting Indian, Asian, Spanish, North African and South American dishes. With seafood, think ceviche, Kokoda or sashimi.

Pairing Recommendation:

Delicate and often floral in character, a great match to Asian inspired foods, antipasti and pre-dinner nibbles, as well as chips and dips. Perfect with a light lunch, picnic, cheeseboard, Mexican dishes and coconut-based curry sauces. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Fresh herbs, gooseberry, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

One of New Zealand’s most successful wine companies founded in 1961 by Sir George Fistonich on a five-hectare plot in Mangere, Auckland. With a strong focus on quality, here is another Gold medal to add to their overflowing trophy cabinet. Brimming with flavours of soft ripe tropical fruits, great balance, texture and a long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season's asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


The Hunting Lodge Seasonal Collection Albariño 2020

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $20 to $25
Key flavours: Peach, rock melon

Judges Comments:

This is what good New Zealand Albariño looks like. It’s perfect with fish and fresh leafy herbs – try it with a Mexican fish taco made with lots of coriander. This is a wine that makes you happy and reminds you of sunshine, like summer in a bottle. Fresh, clean with white flowers, peach and rockmelon aromas. The flavours are rich with a lovely persistence and a light saline note without hard edges.

Pairing Recommendation:

Here is a great new taste discovery that’s perfect for all types of fish and seafood. Great with southeast-Asian inspired dishes, Mexican, light lunches, picnics and coconut-based curry dishes and dishes with leafy aromatic herbs like basil and tarragon. Versatile enough to enhance antipasti, pre-dinner nibbles, a cheese platter and tapas. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella and feta, double cream brie and gruyere.


Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Gooseberry, rock melon

Judges Comments:

Sauvignon Blanc is a special friend to Goat cheese. Whether it's in a goat cheese tart, or goat curd spread thickly on toasted Vogel's or a warm beet salad with Goat cheese, here is a wine that works beautifully. A burst of ripe green rockmelon and a rich palate makes this a very attractive wine, balanced by lots of good fresh zingy acidity.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season's asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Giesen Estate Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Marlborough
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Peach, ripe pear

Judges Comments:

The beauty of Pinot Gris like this is its adaptability to go with a range of foods, from a pork stir fry through to a cheese and mango chutney toastie and a bit of everything in between. A riper style with stone fruit flavours and wonderful richness. It has both flavour persistence and mouthfeel texture, a very polished wine.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Rapaura Springs Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Fresh herbs, gooseberry, passionfruit

Judges Comments:

The perfect gift to say thank you to the team, this versatile and appealing wine will please everyone. Whether using this as a gift or a delicious wine to share with friends over a cheeseboard, it’s pure passionfruit with the beguiling complexity of a touch of struck flint, rich and textural with a long creamy passionfruit finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season's asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Mount Riley Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $20 to $25
Key flavours: Gooseberry, grapefruit, guava, passionfruit

Judges Comments:

A late summer’s evening on a West Coast beach, drinking Sauvignon Blanc and eating freshly steamed green-lipped mussels – it has to be New Zealand. From a father, daughter and winemaker son-in-law, here is the essence of Marlborough Sauvignon. Lots of flavour with passionfruit, gooseberry and grapefruit pith, all combining to balance the acid and create a long intense finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Clearview Estate Beachhead Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $20 to $25
Key flavours: Creamy, mineral, peach, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

From a consistent producer who crafts these wines using artisan techniques and creates superb flavours. Grown right on the Hawke's Bay coast where the vines can hear the waves lapping. Brilliant with Nicoise salad or grilled fish fresh from the hot plate. Generous and rich mouthfeel with terrific stone fruit power, backed by vanilla oak. Layers of complexity with beguiling note of struck flint and a very long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Leveret Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Creamy, peach, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

If you’re looking for that last minute dinner party wine, the one where you need to impress, cover all the bases of acceptable flavours and complete the illusion that you’re in control of your life, then here is the wine. Pale yellow with white peach and balanced vanilla oak, the palate is creamy with ripe stone fruit and a striking tension between the fruit, acidity and tannins, creating a seductive harmony. Great length and a fabulous food match.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Gooseberry, passionfruit, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

Two Rivers recognises the importance of the Wairau and Awatere Rivers, which make up the spiritual heart of Marlborough’s wine region. New Zealand has great winemakers and great vineyard sites, and when you get the two of them together magic happens. This year’s Champion Sauvignon Blanc has aromas and flavours of red capsicums and nectarine with a captivating creamy texture. Crisp acidity and great concentration with weight follows through to a long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


The Crater Rim Waipara Viognier 2019

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Peach, spices, vanillin oak, white blossom

Judges Comments:

Originally from the northern Rhone Valley in France ‘vee-on-yay’ is not a wine we see often in New Zealand. Although it’s dry, this is a gorgeous accompaniment to citrus based dishes, stewed apple and apricot, as well as leafy aromatic herbs like basil and tarragon. Like Chardonnay on steroids, a sort of wine for all seasons. Ripe peach, ginger and spicy floral notes with a hint of vanilla. The palate is creamy and generous, long lasting with balanced fruit flavour and acid.

Pairing Recommendation:

Another great taste discovery, the wines were originally from the Rhone Valley in south-eastern France where they are really into food! Perfect with seafood, veal, pork, chicken just about any style. It works with cinnamon and cardamom, coriander, ginger and creamy curries. Don't miss out on pairing with cheese, soft double and even triple cream cheeses as well as soft blue like gorgonzola, as well as gruyere.


Alpha Domus Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Creamy, cut grass, gooseberry, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

This Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful pairing for Thai food, particularly green curries. Enjoy this wine at your local Thai BYO, with a takeaway or with your own Thai cuisine creations. Big, mouth-filling, rich and punchy, still very youthful with the creamy complexity from a small addition of Semillon done very well. The finish is long and balanced.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Marlborough
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Ripe pear

Judges Comments:

A wonderfully versatile wine to have on hand ready to pair with an impromptu backyard BBQ with the neighbours. It also loves all sorts of fish, pork bao buns, Thai chicken noodle soup and Asian inspired cuisine. Classic floral notes with quince and pear, the palate has crisply balanced acid. It’s clean and juicy with varietal purity.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Seifried Nelson Gewürztraminer 2020

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Nelson
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Apricot, floral, spicy, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

A mouthful of a name, but the wine is absolutely fantastic! Just call it “ga-vertz” and they'll know what you mean. Always recommended with Asian dishes, also try this one with a rich pâté or spicy chicken buffalo wings. Bright perfumed and pretty, with punchy varietal flavours of rose and lychee. Youthful with crowd-pleasing sweetness that is well balanced by refreshing acidity.

Pairing Recommendation:

This wine is a real cracker with spice. A favourite with Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean – fantastic with chilli crab – but also legendary with rich pate or buffalo chicken wings. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella and feta.


Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2020

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Marlborough
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: Under $15
Key flavours: Citrus, floral, lemon zest

Judges Comments:

Riesling would have to be high on a list of ‘desert island’ wines – great flavours, aging ability, wide range of styles and perfect with fish… assuming there will be fish on the island. Youthful and understated with lovely acidity and balance. Pristine aromas of nice green lime zest and delicate white flowers, there’s a delightful fineness, accenting the crisp acidity.

Pairing Recommendation:

Delicate and often floral in character, a great match to Asian inspired foods, antipasti and pre-dinner nibbles, as well as chips and dips. Perfect with a light lunch, picnic, cheeseboard, Mexican dishes and coconut-based curry sauces. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Rocky Point Pinot Gris 2020

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Otago
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Ripe pear

Judges Comments:

From Central Otago’s Pisa and Bendigo regions, here’s a wine that’s a terrific match with a double cream cheese on crackers spiced up with a touch of honeycomb, or pork and coriander stuffed dumplings. Pale and superbly made with an intriguing spice line through the palate. Dry with bracing acidity and medium weight. A lovely texture and long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Roaring Meg Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Otago
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Peach, ripe pear, rock melon, smoky

Judges Comments:

From spectacular Central Otago, even the name creates the image of steep mountains, cascading waterfalls and holiday happy hour. With all the wonderful foods to explore from Central Otago, this is the perfect accompaniment. Flavours that remind you of a juicy ripe peach served with honeydew melon. Juicy acidity with a rich line of spice running through the palate, creating a beguiling smoky texture and a persistent finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Squawking Magpie Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Citrus, gooseberry, lemon blossom

Judges Comments:

Here’s a Sauvignon showing the very ripe flavours of concentrated citrus, lemongrass and Kaffir lime, balanced with crisp acidity and a long textural finish. Sauvignon is a marvellous wine to match with green vegetables like courgettes, fresh peas, artichokes and fresh asparagus. These are all fragrant fresh green vegetables that create the most wonderful risottos.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair this wine with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.

Explore New Zealand’s best white wines

Want to find more award-winning wines for under $25 a bottle? Take a look at our pick of the best New Zealand wines of 2020. Or, use our wine finder tool to search for a wine that takes your fancy.

Ready to try some award-winning New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? All of our Gold medal-winners are available online now from your local New World. 

Related articles:

Guide to Aromatic Wines
Chardonnay Wine Guide
Sauvignon Blanc Wine Guide
Riesling Wine Guide
Pinot Gris Wine Guide
Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
Best New Zealand red wines
8 of the best Pinot Noirs of 2020
Best New Zealand wines for under $20

Jim Harre - about the author

After studying viticulture and winemaking at Hawkes Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology, Jim worked several vintages, both in New Zealand and Internationally as a winemaker. 

Identified as having a very good palate for quality assessment of wine, Jim has been a major part of New Zealand’s Wine Judging competitions for over 25 years. Now a well respected International

Judge, he works as a Chair of Judges in Wine Competitions in USA, Japan, China, Australia and, of course, New Zealand. 

He is also regarded as a world authority on the effect of how wine perception changes in aircraft, a panel chair at the world’s largest competition; the International Wine Challenge, held each year in London; as well as Wine Consultant to Air New Zealand.

It is Jim’s love of education and teaching people about wine that makes him one of New Zealand’s most recognised Wine professionals.