Wine making career

Nautilus wine maker Clive Jones
Nautilus wine maker Clive Jones

Nautilus Estate winemaker and winery manager Clive Jones had his heart stolen by the Marlborough wine industry 15 years ago – and he has no plans to get it back.

Clive is the newly elected chairman of the Marlborough Winegrowers Board and feels it is his time to give something back to the industry, an industry he says has given him so much over the years.

"I wanted to give something back and contribute to the region . . . so I put my hand up. "

The last 15 years have been an exciting ride that's for sure."

Clive first touched down in Marlborough in 1992.

Prior to that he was studying chemistry at an Auckland university and secured his first job working in a laboratory.

After working there for two years took up a role with Selaks Wines in Auckland, where he stayed for six years.

At the same time he studied oenology through correspondence with an Australian university. Then a better offer then came his way – a chance to work at a winery in Marlborough.

"The opportunity came up with Nautilus. I've now been here for 15 years," Clive says.

"At that stage I got the wine bug and the modern wine industry was emerging. "

It was something I was interested in and thought I would give it a crack.

" During his time at Nautilus he has helped build the entire winery (the wine was first produced at a contract facility) and Nautilus wines, as well as its associated labels Opawa Wines and Twin Islands, have gone on to win countless awards in New Zealand and overseas. He loves the region and his job as winemaker and winery manager, Clive says.

"One of the good things about this industry is you do get to travel and have different experiences but it's always nice to come home. "

I haven't got any ambition to leave Marlborough."

There are many perks to a job in the wine industry, he says.

"You are going through the same thing every year from that point-of-view. But the reality is every vintage is different. "Every year you start off fresh ... I like coming to work every morning. I get a lot of satisfaction from my job."

He has had the opportunity to work with the same fruit and vineyards for 15 years and says that has been a bonus because you learn to know what the fruit can achieve.

"To have the opportunity to work with the same fruit for 15 years is amazing. "

It's always the same people with the same vineyards but the wine is going from strength to strength.

"The quality is very rewarding."

In October last year, Clive began a new adventure, as chairman of the Wine Marlborough board. He had been a member of the board for 3 years before being elected chairman.

"If you put your hand up, you have to be prepared to run it. I'm happy to have my turn," he says.

The board is made up of five winery representatives and five winegrowers. They meet every month to discuss any issues facing the industry, organise events and generally look after Marlborough's wine industry, he says.

Clive says the future of Marlborough's wine industry is positive.

"The long-term future for the wine industry is strong, though it's not without its risks – its agriculture risks – because we are farmers at the end of the day," he says.

"The industry has been going through some challenging times since 2008, but I think we are better off for it."

Clive says while Marlborough will always be recognised for sauvignon blanc there is a growing market for other varieties.

"We are going through a new growth phase as an industry. "

A growth that is driven by wineries . . . it's that supply and demand equity that has finally balanced," he says.

"We have been refocusing a bit on the chardonnay and pinot noir [but] sauvignon blanc will always be our strength.

"We are in a premium position in the world." 

The Marlborough Express