Woman-Made Wines in New Zealand

BY Montana Rae

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Raise a glass to women in wine as we celebrate Women’s History Month with a lineup of female-made wines from around the world. Explore each remarkable bottle in Denver restaurants and learn the stories of the women behind the wines.

The history of wine spans centuries and is deeply rooted in tradition. Historically, it was uncommon for women to take the helm as winemakers. Today, the wine industry is evolving and many highly regarded wineries are led by strong women who touch and connect with every aspect of production from vineyard to winery to the tables of the remarkable restaurants listed below.

In this article series, you’ll find great wines for every budget produced by dynamic women from around the world in this global wine experience. 

Get to know female winemakers from Colorado, Oregon, New Zealand, and Italy, plus one very ambitious lady from Japan who dared to do it differently and became a saké brewmaster, a role seldom held by a woman in Japan.

Their stories and backgrounds vary, but ties to family, sustainability, and perseverance unite them.

You’ll find their wines waiting for you in the cellars of some of our city’s best restaurants. Prepare to experience the elegance and finesse these woman-made wines bring to exceptional Denver dining rooms.

Amanda Johnson

Spy Valley ‘Satellite’ Sauvignon Blanc at Stone Cellar Bistro

7605 Grandview Ave Arvada, Colorado

The Woman

Our journey now takes us across the globe to sunny Marlborough New Zealand where Amanda Johnson continues her family legacy at the helm of Spy Valley Winery. Nestled in the hills of the Waihopai Valley, Amanda’s family planted 180 hectares of vines back in the 1990s. At the time, some locals didn’t believe the region was suitable for viticulture due to the dry, infertile conditions. Defying the odds, the family’s story began as growers and blossomed into a brand of their own, which is now sold in 35 countries around the world and is still very much a family business.

When the family decided to create their brand, it was Amanda who knew they had to name it after the Waihopai Station spy base that shares the valley with the winery. 

Today, Amanda continues her parent’s legacy, taking a holistic approach to farming and winemaking. With children and grandchildren already adopting key roles at the winery, it’s easy to understand why this approach is so important to their story. 

Amanda says, “When you work land as exceptional as this, you protect it. Here at Spy Valley, we know that our environment is one of the many secrets to our success. It has sustained generations, and it is our job to nurture it for many more.” 

All of the wines they produce are certified by the New Zealand Sustainable Winegrowing scheme and have been since 1999. A leader of the movement, Spy Valley was among the first of Marlborough’s wineries to be certified. Since then, they have continued to “monitor, measure, reduce, and repeat.”

In addition to the powerful women of the Johnson family, Spy Valley also enjoys the talents of chief winemaker Wendy Stuckey, winemaker Emily Gaspard-Clark, assistant winemaker Ashley Robinson, and an ongoing roster of other remarkable women playing critical roles in the winery operations.

Spy Valley ‘Satellite’ Sauvignon Blanc. Image courtesy of Spy Valley Wines.
Spy Valley ‘Satellite’ Sauvignon Blanc. Image courtesy of Spy Valley Wines.

The Wine

The grapes for the Spy Valley ‘Satellite’ 2022 Sauvignon Blanc were harvested at the peak of freshness from estate and grower vineyards in Marlborough. The juice was pressed gently and fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to maintain the brilliant aromatics of the fruit. A classic example of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the wine offers aromas of fresh lemon, lime zest, grapefruit, and herbs.

Try this with the Stone Cellar Bistro’s Bangs Island Mussels with Little Neck Clams, shaved fennel, Kat’s sourdough, and smoky tomato broth in a nod to the exceptional seafood enjoyed throughout New Zealand.

Learn more about Amanda and her team and Spy Valley here

Check out the Stone Cellar Bistro wine list here


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Montana Rae

Montana Rae is a CMS Certified Sommelier and WSET Level III residing in Denver, Colorado. She offers private wine tastings, classes, and dinners at clients’ homes and businesses around Colorado, as well as product recommendations, tips, recipes, and more through her company, The Wine Ship. Montana is also a commercial real estate broker specializing in sales and leasing of restaurant and retail spaces in Denver. Contact Montana at montana@thewineship.com and follow her on Instagram @montana.rae.sommelier

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