Hanging up the boots, Sir John Kirwan gets into the wine game

Named after his famous All Black jersey, Jk.14 wines is Sir John Kirwan's way of bringing a slice of Italy to New Zealand.
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Named after his famous All Black jersey, Jk.14 wines is Sir John Kirwan's way of bringing a slice of Italy to New Zealand.

 Sir John Kirwan is hoping to introduce more New Zealanders to his love affair with Italy.

The All Black legend and former Blues coach has hung up his rugby boots to focus on another passion of his - wine.

Established with his daughter Francesca nearly a year ago, Jk.14 wines is a boutique wine company, importing the finest blends from the Veneto region of Italy.

Kirwan has a passion for Italy and its wines - it's the birthplace of his wife.
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Kirwan has a passion for Italy and its wines - it's the birthplace of his wife.

It's a place close to John's heart - he met his wife in the Treviso region while living and playing rugby in Italy.

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Each wine is named after a close friend of the Kirwans, and their wines are available at selected New Zealand restaurants and stores.

Each wine is named after close friends of the Kirwans.
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Each wine is named after close friends of the Kirwans.

"The response has been really good so far. New Zealand has a natural affinity with Italy and its products," John says.

"Our friends in Italy now have an excuse to come down to New Zealand."

Jk.14 wines, named after his All Black number, includes red, white, and Prosecco selections and is sourced from vineyards run by their friends.

They're focused on providing a small selection of quality products while the business grows.

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John's at the helm of the brand while helping Francesca learn the ropes of running a business - she's responsible for things like ordering wine, customer service, and marketing.

Born and raised in Mangere, John says he always brings the south Auckland "have a go" attitude to whatever he does, and he's been inspiring Francesca with that.

"You can't be scared of making mistakes, mistakes are part of learning," he says.

"It doesn't matter if you make mistakes as long as you believe in yourself and have a go and just don't worry about those things."

He and Francesca will be at New Zealand's largest wine tasting event, Winetopia, in June, which they're excited about.

"We need a good opportunity to showcase our wines so it'll be good," Francesca says.

"It gives us an opportunity to meet people on a personal level and have them in front of us where we can tell stories about our wine's personalities and who they're named after," John says.

Winetopia will feature talks and classes from winemakers and tastings from 60 New Zealand wineries.

The event will be held at Shed 10 in Auckland's CBD from on June 9 and 10. Go to winetopia.nz for more information.

 - Stuff

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