A keen ambassador of Kiwi wine for more than 30 years, Kate Radburnd has established her own label with its first release wines out this year.
As a sommelier in the 1990s, I would often meet with winemakers to learn more about their brand and taste the wine. During my first encounter with Kate Radburnd, I learned so much about wine, her winemaking philosophy and all the New Zealand varieties to watch out for. She left a lasting impression about quality, style, complexity and longevity of wine.
Soon after graduating from the Roseworthy Agricultural College, South Australia, in 1983, Radburnd made her way to New Zealand. Her first job was with the Vidal wine team in Hawke’s Bay.
After seven years there, she joined the team at CJ Pask Winery (now Pask) as head winemaker, eventually becoming a joint owner and managing director during her 26-year stint. Many wines, awards and styles that she crafted over that time have formed part of my table-side conversations with customers.
Radburnd Cellars was established in 2017 with three first release wines in 2020: a chardonnay, a merlot cabernet blend and a syrah. The theme with all three wines is similar – understated yet elegant, pure yet vibrant. Radburnd is doing what she loves the most, which is making her best wine, the way she wants to make it and without compromise.
Radburnd is a keen ambassador for New Zealand wine: she’s been a senior judge at national and international wine competitions, including a 10-year tenure as Chair of Judges for the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards; a former director of New Zealand Winegrowers and a wine consultant to Air New Zealand. Radburnd has also been awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Competition in 2010 and was made a Fellow of New Zealand Winegrowers in 2015.
What inspired you to become a winemaker? “My love of wine was initiated by my parents. Great evenings around the dinner table, plenty of discussion, debate and synergy.”
What new trends in wine are exciting you? “We have tried to do every step of growing, making, packaging, distribution and customer experience the absolute best way we can. Our bespoke packaging at Radburnd Cellars is a good example of this, and I am very excited to see how this is embraced.”
How would you like to see New Zealand’s wine industry evolve in the longer term? “The uniqueness, depth and interest in my mind lies with New Zealand concentrating on absolute quality. We have diverse regions that produce outstanding varieties suited to their place. I would like to see focus on recognising the quality and value of what can be exquisite wines from our superb cool climate.”
Cameron Douglas MS
Photography courtesy of Radburnd Cellars.
REGION | Auckland and Hawke’s Bay
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | 38
ANNUAL CRUSH | max 50 tonnes
STANDOUT WINES | 2018 Radburnd Cellars Merlot Cabernet