“I spent a back breaking school holiday planting some of our Sauvignon vines in our stony soils so it’s incredible rewarding to now use the fruit of these vines to make our award-winning Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc.”
Born and raised in the Awatere Valley, as a child, Stu witnessed an exciting transformation from quiet pastoral farming to grape growing as Vavasour forged a new frontier in winemaking. As a nine-year-old he was at the winery for that first revelatory vintage of 1989 – and caught the winemaking bug.
Teenage school holidays were spent working in the Vavasour vineyards, gaining skills and experience. He graduated from Lincoln University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology and immediately started as Vavasour’s assistant winemaker, and became Winemaker in 2007. Stu was a finalist at the 2008 & 2009 Young Winemaker of the Year Awards and was awarded Winemaker of the Show at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2018.
Stu and his team at Vavasour are responsible for crafting Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc which won Platinum Best in Show scoring 97 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2018. Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc has also been on the Fine Wines of New Zealand list for five years running, an unimaginable feat!
What made you want to become a winemaker?
I grew up on a sheep farm a few km away from the Vavasour winery in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. So winegrowing was a brand new and exciting thing for the valley and I went along to the first harvest in 1989 as a 9 year old and I was hooked! It’s the perfect combination of farming, science and art. I started working in the vineyards during school and university holidays and planted some of the vines that I now make wines from.
How did you go about becoming a winemaker?
I went to Lincoln University to study my Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology, but winemaking is also very much about experience and learning from others, so I have been lucky to have some great friends and mentors in the industry.
Why did you choose to work at Vavasour?
The Vavasour winery is based out in the picturesque Awatere valley where my family have long been farming. It’s an incredible place being close to the ocean, the views of the beautiful Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku and it’s a really lovely small community so really love working at Vavasour. We still live on the cost about 5min down the road from the winery. I think I have one of the best morning commutes in the world!
What about Marlborough is it that creates great Sauvignon Blanc?
There are a few things that make a difference with our Sauvignon blanc, but the biggest would be the climate and the soils. Our climate in Marlborough is fantastic. We get lovely warm windy days and cool nights. During the warm windy days the vines produce all those lovely flavours and then the cool nights lock in the freshness and flavour.
What’s your favourite thing to pair it with?
It’s such a fresh vibrant wine that I think it suits fresh vibrant food. Things like a fresh green salad or Ceviche work really well.
What is the perfect occasion to serve this wine for?
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