Jane Hunter becomes first New Zealander to win prestigious Australian wine award for riesling

Hunter's Wines managing director Jane Hunter with the Wolf Blass AM Award trophy she won for her contribution to riesling.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Hunter's Wines managing director Jane Hunter with the Wolf Blass AM Award trophy she won for her contribution to riesling.

The "first lady" of the New Zealand wine industry has scooped another accolade for her contribution to riesling.

Hunter's Wines managing director Jane Hunter picked up the Wolf Blass AM Award at the Canberra International Riesling Challenge award ceremony last Friday.

This is the first time a New Zealander has won the award, which is given out every two years to a person or organisation who has made a major contribution to the development of riesling.

It was started by pioneering Australian winemaker Wolf Blass, who Hunter said described riesling as the jewel in the crown of white wine.

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Hunter was originally from South Australia, where Blass started his career in the wine industry, becoming one of the first people to blend wines from different vineyards and regions.

"This is great because the award is from Australia, and you don't really think of Australian awards going to small New Zealand winemakers very often," she said.

"Riesling has been a quiet achiever for us over the years, we've had a huge number of trophies and medals for it."

Hunter had been running Hunter's Wines since 1987, after the death of her husband, pioneering Marlborough wine industry figure Ernie Hunter, who started the company in 1979.

He helped put Marlborough sauvignon blanc on the map, when the company took out the top award for the variety at the 1986 Sunday Times Wine Festival in London.

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Hunter, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and recipient of the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, said the global popularity of Marlborough sauvignon blanc often overshadowed other varieties, including riesling.

A frequent comment at the Riesling Challenge was people loved riesling, but wine companies were struggling to sell large quantities of the wine, she said.

Hunter's Hukapapa Dessert Riesling 2014 was awarded an Elite Gold at the challenge.

 - The Marlborough Express

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