They may have met in Australia, but dynamic duo Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen are determined to create exceptional wine in New Zealand.
It’s not a stretch to describe Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen as a dynamic duo – they’ve been making wine together for more than two decades. Their focus and attention to everything they do in the vineyard and winery is showcased in the fantastic wines they make.
For Sarah-Kate, wine runs in the family. “I was fortunate enough to be born into a family involved in wine,” she says. “Dad was one of those doctors who retired from medicine and, together with Mum, planted a vineyard in the beautiful Maungawera Valley just outside of Wanaka. I wanted to follow in his footsteps and set off to Dunedin to study medicine – only to find out I was much better at drinking wine, so making wine was the better career choice.”
After she finished her science degree, she completed her first vintage in New Zealand before heading across the ditch to the Hunter Valley and Brokenwood Wines.
Dan studied at Roseworthy College in Adelaide, then began his apprenticeship and training with Brian Croser at Petaluma wines before he also moved to the Hunter Valley. Here he made one of Australia’s most awarded wines, the Lovedale Semillon from McWilliams Wines. Dan’s talents caught the attention of Iain Riggs at Brokenwood Wines where he became the winemaker. It was at Brokenwood that the pair first met.
Sarah-Kate’s achievements in Australia have seen her become a Young Achiever Scholar as well as a Len Evans Scholar, progressing through the wine show judging system becoming panel chair of many wine shows throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Which of your wines are you most proud of? “The Mt Maude Pinot Noir and the East Meets West Pinot Noir, both from 26-year- vines. Two completely different winemaking styles but both exuding the essence of what that site and vines continue to offer, year after year.”
How would you like to see New Zealand’s wine industry evolve in the longer term? “Our industry must continue to cement its reputation of exceptional wine. There is so much to discover – aromatic whites with clarity and purity, captivating pinot noirs, sophisticated Bordeaux blends, Méthode Traditionelle that are growing in complexity. And when consumers and experts have discovered these styles, they can start on our hidden gem: chardonnay. As an industry we must strive for excellence in the vineyard, in the winery and in the market – our time is now.”
What do you and Dan imbibe at the end of a hard-day’s work? “A creature of habit, I love The Botanist Islay Dry Gin with Fever Tree Classic Tonic, two slices of lemon, not lime, in a large stemmed wine glass. Bliss.”
Cameron Douglas MS
Photography courtesy of By Alphine Image Co.
FACTS AND FIGURES
REGION | Central Otago
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | Dan – 30 years; SK – 23 years
ANNUAL CRUSH | Max 800 tonnes
STAND-OUT WINES | 2018 Maude East meets West Pinot Noir