A brief insight into Chief Winemaker Stefan Heinrich: Anchorage Wines

Stefan in the Vineyard

Stefan hails from Heilbronn Germany, where his family’s connection to winemaking dates back to the 1490’s. Heilbronn is known as Germany’s number 1 red wine region, when in the 16th Century, Emperor Maximillian promoted Heilbronn as the best grape growing and winemaking region. The area had already been a notary wine growing region since Roman Times.
For Centuries, wine making has been considered as the chief job and skill creator for the people of Heilbronn. The location of the city next to the Neckar River provides a necessary life force to the vineyards.

Stefan, at what age and how did you first become involved in winemaking?

“Old enough to carry a bucket, so about 4. By the age of 6 or 7 I had my own grape harvest bag to help carry the grapes out of the vineyard to tip into bins.”
“With my Uncle and cousin, at that age, I would help with the crushing and pressing of grapes every weekend and when there was no school.”
“This was a family business, yet Dad was the only wine drinker! He was a Connoisseur. My Aunty and Uncle both had their own small family vineyard. In the early days, my grandparents were both still very active in the business. We lived in a traditional household with Uncle, Aunty, two cousins, Grandma, Grandpa all living together, as well my parents and brother.”

Sounds like a good recipe for winemaking! The whole family involved.

When did you start your professional career, and what were the outcomes, or first successes?

“Professionally my career began in 1998. I was then aged 20. I started my apprenticeship in Winemaking which lasted 2.5 years. My first success would have to be when I graduated equal best in my apprenticeship. Shortly after, the winery achieved their first Gold Medals.”

What led you to this area and particularly your work at Anchorage Wines?

“Once immigrating to New Zealand, the opportunity arose to work in the town my partner and I were living, and this was my introduction to Anchorage Wines where I have now worked for the last 5 years.”
“The most attractive thing about the Nelson region is that everything grows reasonably well, particularly the aromatics. Wines such as Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.”

What is your favourite wine variety and what is it about it that attracts you?

“Finding our own style of Sauvignon Blanc is also a continual process. My favourite Anchorage wine would be the Anchorage Gewürztraminer 2017. The Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine with a subtle rose petal, lychee and Turkish delight flavour. For me it’s a celebration wine to drink with good company.”

How do you run vintage?

“I am a firm believer that there is no “I” in team. The Harvest team consisted of myself, Cecile Neubauer (my assistant winemaker), another long serving casual team member Tony Coakley, and International intern Leonora Walter.”

“My philosophy is that everyone does and learns every job. I would never ask someone to do a job I wouldn’t do myself. For the International staff, I like them to take a practical and positive experience away with them.”

Sounds like a nice place to work.

What do you do in your spare time (if any!)?

“I like to train youth and adults in the art of Judo. And a little bit of Waka Ama on the side to keep me sane! Nothing beats the serenity of the ocean, and living and working in this region allows me to feel fulfilled enough where I can embrace both my hobbies and work.”

Lastly, where do you see your future with Anchorage Wines heading?

“I’m quite happy to keep making wines that appeal to as many people as possible and show off a bit of creativity and innovation in wine style.”

“We are continuing to invest in cutting edge equipment which will provide us with a more sustainable future and a more gentle way of making wines.”

Anchorage Wines New Zealand Limited | 202 Umukuri Road | Brooklyn | Motueka | P O Box 434 | Motueka 7143 | New Zealand
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