Over the next few months we shall be introducing to you a member of our small team. This month we would like you to meet Maria, who looks after all things wine!
Tell us a little bit about you and your role at Hans Herzog?
“So, originally I am from London, however I have been living in Blenheim for just over 3 years (not all in one go)! Before I came travelling, I was living in Leeds, where I went to University for my Business Degree and a few years down the line gained my WSET Level 3, but quite a random road on how I got to that point!
My role at Hans Herzog in a nutshell is wine, wine and more wine! I work with Therese and look after sales domestically and internationally as well as us being part of the clogs behind the marketing of everything wine! Any time you make an order with us, see a post from us on social media it is me in the back end of our small engine room organising it!”
How did you find this job and what made you apply?
“I was actually working nights at one of the larger wineries in Marlborough, after being back in the UK for 8 months, and was looking at my next move post-harvest. I was already a huge fan of Herzog’s after living in Blenheim for over a year and it was always my go to stop for a winery lunch or a nice glass of wine. So when I saw the job of “Sales and Marketing Executive” on wine jobs online. I jumped at the chance to apply for it! Luckily, I was invited for an interview with Therese and meeting her and listening to the story of Herzog’s first hand and the incredible setting it just blew me away. The rest is really history, I have now been here for over 2 years!”
How did you get into the wine industry?
“Ooof – longish story! I must say prior to be coming to Marlborough back in 2016, I was not into wine. Which is one of my biggest regrets, as there is so much I could have already learnt by drinking wine and learning about it. Being from the UK, we are so lucky that we have access to so many great wines, however I think until you work directly in the industry or live in a winemaking region you do not really think about the back end of it and how it is made - but that may have just been me!
Coming to Marlborough was my first ever real trip to a wine region and it is hard to not get sucked in. Just driving through all you can see for miles is vineyards, it really gives you a moment of awe. So I used this time to go around all the different wineries and obviously I had my favourites (Herzog’s included!). I was then told by the locals that I should look at doing a harvest as it is a great way to meet people and make money! How could you say no to that? So I was lucky enough to have a friend who worked at one of the larger wineries in Marlborough and was able to get me a position. I worked at this winery for two harvests and in between that time I worked at The Wine Society in the UK, as well as trying to further my experience by working at wine events – including NZ Winegrowers – Taste of NZ in London. Once I came back to Marlborough in 2018, I wanted a job where I could really utilise the knowledge I had learnt in the last year. Then, luckily I landed the job at Herzog’s! I must add, for wine lovers this truly is a must visit producer. Nobody else in New Zealand produces over 25 varieties, has an international cellar that rivals the very best and a setting which instantly takes your breath away. A real wine haven."
If you could compare yourself to a grape variety?
"Hmmm hard one! I must say I can be quite loud, however I have a soft sensitive side too! So I would say I am like a Bordeaux blend as the two sides of me fit well with the intense aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon but outweighed by the soft and concentrated Merlot. So I am like our blend of Spirit of Marlborough!"
Your favourite Hans Herzog wine?
"Oh gosh, really hard for me to choose!
I have been an extremely loyal follower of Hans’ Viognier, since day dot. However, the Tempranillo for me has a very special place in my heart. My first arrival to HH this was the wine which stopped me in my tracks and made me think wow this place is really different and about a year or so later I got my role here so since have been able to try the entire range. As you know Hans produces over 26 different grape varieties so how could you possibly pick one?!"
What wine destination do you want to visit next?
"Super easy for me – Italy! There is no wine nation in the world which has so much diversity across terroir, varietals and winemaking styles – plus their love of wine is so infectious. I was actually supposed to be heading there for two weeks this month, but due to the circumstances around Covid-19 this is no longer be possible (always next year!). However I am lucky that Hans produces so many Italian varietals, that I can create my own little Italy at home."
What is your favourite part of the Estate?
"For me, it has to be the Barrel Room! I do a lot of the private tours for our guests and I always think you really get a sense of the handcrafted, boutique production that happens when you see it, it all just clicks into place. Before I worked here I always imagined this was what barrel halls looked like, quaint and authentic. But this is not always the case! So much happens here, the evolution of the wine over its time in barrel and how it grows and changes over the coming months and years. The result is always awesome!"
What would you recommend to do in Marlborough?
"The Marlborough sounds is a definite must see. There is a lot to be explored and a lot of hiking tracks to walk, with a lot of stunning accommodations along the way (fit for all budgets). If you have time whilst you are here, take a look at the Queen Charlotte track, or if you do not have time to walk, the Queen Charlotte drive between Picton and Havelock is always a great way to see a snap shot of how beautiful this region really is."