Our team is top of its class in every area.
Dedicated and skilled, each of our team members heard the call to Mahana and bring with them experience and knowledge from around the world, as well as a deep understanding of the local region. We work at bringing out the best in each other and the best of Mahana.
Joining us in February 2014, Michael Glover left his family’s small vineyard which is just a few kilometres away from Mahana back in 1993 in order to complete a Wine Science degree at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia. The intention was always to return but having met his wife Catherine whilst studying, his return was delayed by about 22 years.
Whilst in Australia he worked as a winemaker in the Hunter Valley at The Rothbury Estate when it was still in the hands of the legendary Len Evans, as well as at Oakvale. After five years in the Hunter he went to the cooler climates of Tasmania where he worked as winemaker for Moorilla Estate. After five years in Hobart, Glover felt the need to move on and was approached by the iconic Bannockburn Vineyards in Geelong to make wine for them after the departure of Gary Farr. Throughout this time he vintaged at wineries in Campania, Puglia, Sardinia, Tuscany, Mosel, Provence and Burgundy.
His winemaking philosophy is an ideal fit with our natural approach to winemaking from low yielding organic vineyards. He grew up near Mahana and understands our soils and climate intimately. Glover believes the best wines are “not forced or pushed and they are definitely not manipulated. The winemaker guides the fruit in a direction that he or she thinks will best ‘capture’ or ‘reflect’ the place in which they are grown. It can be beautiful, artistic, expressive, philosophical and VERY personal. The very best wines are sincere wines and display integrity and commitment right through the process. These are wines that have a soul!”
Having worked with many great producers with strong philosophies in Europe, Glover says he has no doubt that great wine comes from great vineyards producing great grapes. “The limiting factor of any wine is the site. You could be the greatest winemaker on the planet but you’re only as good as your site,” he submits.
“Mahana gives me the opportunity to make wine from dry-grown and organically managed vineyards that produce fruit requiring no ‘extraneous’ additions. The winemaking takes place in a winery that is purpose-built to use gravity rather than pumps. For me…it is as authentic and as pure as it can be.”
Assistant Winemaker & Cellar Master
The role of the Assistant Winemaker and Cellar Master is a comprehensive one which requires an exceptional, in-depth and practical understanding of all processes and movements. From the first pickings off the vine to the last label rolled onto the bottle, the Cellar Master carries great responsibility in ensuring that all runs smoothly in the winery and that our philosophy is carried out in every step along the way.
This role is a unique one in the world of wine, in that it is one of the few positions in the industry that has to be earned. Therefore, it is easy to see why Adrian “The Lion” Mann upholds this title at Mahana.
Adrian has been native to the Tasman region since 1995 when he and his wife, Gretchen moved back to raise their next generation closer to the family roots. Gretchen’s grandfather, Viggo duFresne, was from the Nelson area and not only was he good friends with Toss Woollaston, but he also planted some of the very first grapes in the region. In fact, he also had what is known to be the region’s first gravity-flow winery.
Adrian’s personal philosophy centres on producing wines that are individualistic and as much about the terroir as the people involved. “Producing great wine encompasses far more than simply working with what comes into the winery – instead requiring significant input from our people at harvest, in processing, handling in the cellar, to bottling and distribution,” he explains.
The role of Assistant Winemaker and Cellar Master is certainly one of the busiest at the winery; Adrian says he enjoys the diversity of the day to day, but he also appreciates his time spent outside the winery, working on classic cars and exploring Aotearoa with the family in the campervan.
Vineyard Manager & Viticulturist
Julian, originally from Christchurch, worked in the vineyards of Canterbury to pay his way through university, where he earned a degree in Classics. After graduating, he moved to Nelson where he ended up working with vines for the next six years. During this time Julian says he often contemplated the rolling hills of what was then a sprawling apple orchard in Mahana, daydreaming about developing vineyards on this land, which he reckoned would be one of the best sites in the country for producing premium Pinot Noir.
Later he took a position in Gisborne, managing the vineyards for New Zealand’s second-largest wine company. Here he learned a great deal, but more importantly he was introduced to the pioneer of organic grape growing in New Zealand.
In 2001, Julian received some interesting news – that apple orchard in Mahana which he knew so well was being turned into a vineyard. There was no doubt in his mind that now was the time to return to Nelson and take up what he described as, “the ultimate gig.”
At Mahana, Julian helped establish and develop the three vineyards, Mahana, Burke’s Bank and Red Shed. He found that he was given essentially a free hand to explore, experiment and learn. After 9 years of grape growing he came to realise that the conventional method was not the only way to grow grapes and certainly not the best. Under his guidance, the company was the first New Zealand vineyard to certify three vineyards at the same time as fully organic under BioGro.
Julian says he didn’t think he was doing anything unusual. “Over the years of growing under the conventional system we had grown more relaxed and more confident in the vines ability to cope with seasonal influences. The main thing I’ve found with organics is that we have to be so much more proactive about vineyard management and more involved with the land, vineyards and vines. With a conventional system there is always a silver bullet for adverse climatic or disease events. With organics, we have to know what’s here, know what’s coming, and deal with it immediately. You can’t just wait till it arrives and then deal with it.”
Cellar Door & Kitchen
Graham brings to Mahana his extensive knowledge and experience of the New Zealand wine industry and his passion for hospitality.
Raised in Lancashire in the UK, Graham spent his early years working in the family business learning the ropes in their small country hotel which later inspired him to qualify as a Chef and then on to finding his passion for wine and training to be a qualified Sommelier. A move to New Zealand in 1996 with his wife and young family gave him the opportunity to continue this vocation in the hospitality industry and Graham spent several years teaching hospitality whilst studying winemaking in the North Island.
Since settling in the Top of the South, Graham has worked for some of New Zealand’s leading wine makers including Kim Crawford, Allan Scott, Framingham Estates and Seifried Estates undertaking a variety of roles from Cellar Master to Assistant Winemaker.
Graham says the things he enjoys most about working at Mahana is the unpredictability and magic of the process which the winemakers there follow; the fact that they use dry grown and whole bunch fermentation techniques ensures there is a sense of mystery to each vintage which is exciting and rewarding. Graham’s early training in wine appreciation in the Northern hemisphere has huge benefits when talking about Mahana’s wine with visitors, allowing him to compare and contrast the differing styles and terroir from an international perspective. Graham’s love of wine and winemaking is clear and when he’s not in the tasting rooms he continues to indulge his winemaking passion in his spare time.
Born in Gloucester, England, Alistair has worked in exclusive luxury hotels and notable country estates in the Cotswolds. Lords of the Manor, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World and sister property to Mahana Villa was one of those properties. The experiences in these kitchens lead him onto a journey to Mahana.
Alistair was trained in highly disciplined AA rosetted and Michelin-starred kitchens, gaining great experience and recognition within the industry. This training laid a foundation by which he has developed his craft over the years. With calm perseverance, he continually elevated his skills and those of the staff around him to the highest standards.
Opening his own successful pub restaurant with a bed and breakfast concept, Alistair gained immeasurable experience in operations and customer satisfaction. All food was produced in house from fresh produce and ingredients for maximum flavour. Here he developed a deeper knowledge of the events and catering business and delivered a product exceeding expectations.
Moving to New Zealand, in 2009, Alistair has worked at luxury lodges, and until now, as the executive chef at the Rutherford Hotel. He prides himself with maintaining the same standards in his kitchens today, as those where he was trained. Alistair has recently been named as one of five Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ambassadors for 2017 an achievement which highlights the exceptional quality of the cuisine being prepared at Mahana. He sources the finest and freshest of the produce available regionally and across New Zealand to prepare dishes in a way to showcase those ingredients and natural flavours. His approach to food is simple: source fresh, local and seasonal produce, treat them with respect, and then apply skill and creativity to deliver unique culinary experiences to our guests…experiences not obtainable anywhere else.
Sales & Marketing Manager
Monique Wijnen is the winery’s Sales and Marketing Manager and looks after both the domestic and export markets.
With a last name like ‘Wijnen’ (which means ‘wines’ in Dutch) it was inevitable Monique would end up working at a winery and she has really landed on her feet working with the passionate team at Mahana.
Monique hails from The Netherlands and moved to Nelson New Zealand 10 years ago to pursue a dream of a better lifestyle in this beautiful part of the world. With degrees in International Tourism Management and Marketing Communication and over 15 years of working in marketing and sales, she is passionate about promoting the unique terroir of Mahana and sharing our wines with the rest of the world.