Winemaker, wine judge, businessman: what doesn’t Ben Glover know about the New Zealand industry?
If you should happen to come across a guy wearing a crash helmet and sporting ski goggles while driving a 1955 Mark III Zephyr around the streets and back roads of Blenheim in the South Island, then wave. That’s Ben Glover.
Many readers will know Glover – his sense of humour, story-telling and passion for making fine wine is only surpassed by the love he has for his family. Sometimes known as ‘The Gardener’ and sometimes as ‘The Janitor’, Glover is also quite the chef, currently working on his beef jerky-making skills.
I asked him if he had a favourite cocktail to accompany his cooking adventures. “It just so happens I’m about to mix one: 2 parts gin, 1 part Zephyr Riesling, 2 parts soda, with elderflower, orange rind and mint, plus some ice.”
Glover began his winemaking career in 1998 as assistant to Brent Marris at Wither Hills in Marlborough, eventually taking the top job there. Other brands he has been winemaker for include Lindauer, Huntaway, Corbans, and Accolade Wines.
The Glover family brand Zephyr, for which Ben heads the team as chief winemaker, is now his primary focus, but he also finds time to run The Coterie, a small winery in Marlborough, where he teams up with Rhyan Wardman.
Glover has been a regular at many of New Zealand’s wine competitions as a judge and is co-chair at New Zealand Wine Growers Wine of the Year competitions.
We chatted about his inspiration when he first began his career in wine. “Brent Marris was a great leader and guide right at the beginning. James Millton [winner of last year’s award] would be another, three minutes with James is worth three hours with almost anyone else.”
What qualities do you see in great leadership? “Well, my son George displays all the attributes of great leadership – empathy, an holistic view of a business and the people in it, can delegate, lead within a group, show confidence and will always say hello.” These are all attributes I have seen in Glover for years, so it makes perfect sense that he would pass these on to others.
We went on to talk about climate change and if it had any impacts on his vineyards and viticultural decisions.
“I saw a map of what my family vineyards might look like in 2050 – they could be completely under water. For the moment it’s about macro-climate and airflow; it is getting warmer, so I need to be conscious of disease pressure and plan ahead.”
Glover makes some fantastic wines; he is a specialist and understands well the idiosyncrasies of sauvignon blanc, aromatics such as riesling and gewürztraminer, and he has been making excellent chardonnay and pinot noir for more than 20 years.
As a mover and shaker in our wine sector and this year’s recipient of the Leadership Award, Ben Glover displays all the attributes he wants to see in future leaders, as well as patience and a willingness to pass on his knowledge to others, with honesty and integrity.
Photography courtesy of Zephyr Wine.