Nearly every wine retailer places their New Zealand and Australia sections right next to each other, and this really does a disservice to both countries, but certainly to New Zealand. The distance between the two countries is akin to that of Napa to Alaska, and a lot gets lost in translation across the Tasman Sea. This tiny island nation of less than five million people produces one of the single most important and impactful wines on the planet, and it is truly something to marvel.
New Zealand is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc and for good reason. The striking and unmistakable style has taken the world by storm over the past forty years of commercial viticulture. However, New Zealand is about far more than Kiwi Sauvy, and its unique mesoclimates are truly special. One of Marlborough’s pioneering wineries was Brancott, and its founder Frank Yukich said that”’wines from here will become world famous,” although the region had previously been primarily known for sheep and orchards.
Vine Street’s foray into New Zealand began with a phone call in 2003 from a long-time customer in Seattle. The retailer had read a review from Jancis Robinson about Walnut Block’s ‘Nutcracker’ Pinot Noir and asked Ronnie if he could bring it in for him. This inevitably became one of the most important phone calls of our 20+-year history, as Walnut Block Collectables Sauvignon Blanc is now the largest single SKU that we import.
Shortly thereafter, the Cowley family of Auntsfield Estate reached out to Ronnie about the possibility of importing their wines. Ronnie knew then that the time was right to see first-hand what was happening in New Zealand, and he booked a trip in 2005. Since then, Auntsfield and Walnut Block have both become pillars of our book.