Why Odyssey Wines Went Organic

My first real positive impression of organics in winemaking was during my vintages in Burgundy, learning the art of Pinot Noir making. No one really talked about organics, they just did it and lived it. It was accepted that if you wanted to make top wine, you needed to be organic. There I read a book about Biodynamics called, ’From Sky to Earth’ by Nicholas Joly. It was one of those books I read and re-read I forget how many times. He talks, among other things, about balance in the soil and the system.

This book really influenced my decisions and plans, when it came to Odyssey Wines and in 2000, when Odyssey Wines bought 68 acres of bare land in Marlborough, I chose to take a holistic, organic approach to the grape growing winemaking. The land is clay soils over dead rock on a hillside, definitely not the easiest land to grow grapes on. So, from the get go, the land needed a serious plan and ongoing commitment to re-charge the soils with organic matter in order to grow the best grapes. The land requires replenishment every step of the growing process. An organic programme with interrow cultivating, under-vine weeding and yearly mulching feels right for the land and the soils are responding well with great texture. The weeds are managed with sheep and mechanical weeding and That zone under the vine, whilst messy, is full of life and much better than a dead zone.

It is great to be sustainable and recycling matter back into the soil, and to be armouring the grapes with thicker skins so they are more resistant to disease. This assists in protecting the grapes and eliminating the need for a shotgun approach with chemical sprays. It makes you plan ahead…  prevention rather than cure. Although this has been a challenge for us to get everything humming along and in sync, it is immensely satisfying when you see the outcome. At the start you make mistakes but you learn from it. Here in New Zealand, there are some great people to help and advise along the way as well, plus there is a great sense of pride in looking after our own turf on the earth!

Odyssey Wines are now making some of our most flavoursome wines from the Marlborough Vineyard, ones which characterise the vineyard and region, and reflect our own terroir. The wines have character and an individuality due to our organic management, and you can really taste the difference. Many of our wines hold a dense, full-bodied flavour and the balance between sweet and acid does not come from additives, but instead from the natural make up of the grapes. We have received the Biogrow full organic certification from our 2013 Vintage’s, and we recently won a Gold Medal for our Sauvignon Blanc 2016 at the New Zealand Organic Wine Awards. Being organic is a no-brainer for Odyssey Wines and isn’t something we see the need to brag about- it is a way of life for us. On a personal level, I buy organic whenever I can, and would rather consume as little chemical residue as possible. I expect an organic product to have good flavour and I love supporting companies who are forward thinking and active in this movement!

“We feel that by the managing the vineyards organically it will allow us to best express the terroir and at the same time give us the satisfaction that we are farming our land in ways that will be relativised for future generations but the site is perfect for producing top quality Pinot Noir”

A Note On What Is To Come… 2016 Vintage

The weather has been kind to us in Marlborough with only the odd bit of rain meaning we have been able to pick when the flavours have been right!

Our Vanuatian picking crew have worked like legends, long hours and hot days but it’s nearly home time for them- bai bai and thanks a million for all your hard work!

With intense blackcurrant, blackberry and cherry notes in the Vintage Pinot Noir’s, we cannot wait to see the finished wines, but we must wait for 2-3 weeks more before the wild yeasts have done their thing.

The Sauvignon Blanc was harvested this past Wednesday with a fabulous analysis, beautifully balanced juice, so not much to do in the winery with this one, its pure, just the way we like it!

As for the Pinot Gris, the grapes were rose pink at harvest while most of that colour drops away during the ferment, it has lots of sweetness and floral, honey and rose petal type flavours. Plus it looks very pretty bubbling away in the tank!

Gisborne as it sometimes does took the brunt of some rain before Easter further reducing an already small crop.

The flavours in Gisborne are as fabulous as ever, the 2016 vintage is looking amazing!

To celebrate such a successful harvest, we are offering customers 20% off their order, so jump online and stock up on wine from our store now!

Follow us on social media for more updates @odysseywines 


What is it that New Zealand’s top and most reputed restaurants have in common? Not only good food, top chefs and dedicated staff, but also the creme of the crop in wine.

And our Reserve Iliad Gisbourne Chardonnay 2014 is always in the spotlight.

A favourite at SPQR, The French Cafe, The Grill, and The Grove, a match made in heaven at Masu, by the bottle or glass at Wellington’s Salty Pidgeon and Matakana’s Market Kitchen, the perfect companion for a late lunch at Ponsonby Street Bistro, and a pleasant surprise at many other bars and restaurants (such as the new Oyster and Chop on the viaduct), the Reserve Iliad Gisbourne Chardonnay is a delicious and treasured drop.

The Odyssey Reserve Iliad label is reserved for those wines which show exceptional character and finesse. The ambition is to make wines which will excite and impress, with a subtlety and complexity unique to the ‘Iliad’ label.

The grapes for this wine were hand selected and picked from the Kawitiri vineyard in Gisborne.  This vineyard is planted with Mendoza. The vintage of 2014 was exceptional, meaning we could leave the grapes hang on the vine for an extended time. The grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented with its own yeast strains in a selection of one and two year old tight-grained French oak barriques. After a full malolactic fermentation, the wine was left to sit on its lees with minimal batonnage (stirring) for approx. one year.

The Odyssey Reserve Iliad Gisborne Chardonnay 2014 is an concentrated wine, full and vibrant, with ripe peach, lifted citrus and  melon fruit flavours and well integrated  oak. The same ripe fruit flavours follow through onto the palate which has great depth and a refined structure. The wine will continue to unfold and develop complexities with ageing.

A New Zealand Icon Wine – Michael Cooper A lovely expression of Gisborne Chardonnay

Try a bottle for yourself. Purchase from our online store now.



2016 Harvest Prep

New Year, New Vintage 2016!

Planning is already underway for this years harvest, set for mid March to early April.

We have been a busy bunch counting bunches so we know how much crop we can expect for our harvest. From this we can also determine if we want to ‘drop crop’. ‘Drop cropping’ is a strange concept to many, and essentially means we cut off and discard many valuable grapes to benefit a smaller portion of the grapes, meaning the remaining bunches have a deeper flavour and gives the final juice the perfect balance between acidic and sweet. We have also been leaf plucking and trimming to expose the branches to the required level of sunlight. Sunlight is key for grapes as it affects the flavours.You don’t want too little, or too much!

Lastly, we put the bird nets on the grapes. The starlings come in flocks, keen to sample our fine grapes! If they had their way they could eat their way through entire crops, the pesky little critters!!!

Heres to a great harvest and an even better year!

Temperature and Wine- Keeping your Wine Safe in the Sun

Here’s hoping for an awesome summer with plenty of sun, but remember to think of your wine before you head out this summer.

High Temperatures are the number one enemy for wine, so we recommend not leaving wine in the back seat of your car. UV light damages the wine, as well as the heat. Luckily, coloured glass can keep your wine safe from the pesky sun but its best not to leave it to chance. Excessive heat can prematurely age your wine and make the aromas and flavours appear flat- all wines are best stored between 10-15 C.

If your wine raises above 30 C, the wines volatile components will be lost, and the wine can taste cooked. But don’t be tempted to chuck it in the freezer to cool it down, a few minutes too long and freezing could force the cork out!

When it comes to serving the wine, big burly reds can handle being served at warmer temps but more delicate wines like it cooler.

Here’s a rough guide to serving the Odyssey Wines range:
Odyssey Reserve Iliad Pinot Noir  -17C
Odyssey Pinot Noir  -15C
Odyssey Reserve Iliad Gisborne Chardonnay  -12C
Odyssey Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Rose  -10C
Odyssey Sauvignon Blanc  -8-10C
Homer Sparkling Rose  -6C

See what you prefer, have fun and keep yourself and your wine safe from the sun!

Q+A With Michael From The Grove

We talked to Michael Dearth owner and front of house extraordinaire of The Grove Restaurant about their new menu, their favourite American wines and what brought them to NZ  from The States. 

So tell me a little bit about the history of The Grove… How did you get to be here and what do you think you bring to the area? 

I came to NZ when I was backpacking after a long trip through Australia and South East Asia. I was young and single and feel in love with the place. It spoke to me. I knew someday I wanted to live here. When I returned to America and met Annette (his partner) working together in San Francisco, I said, ‘If this is going to work out you are going to have to move out to NZ with me! She did and the rest is history.

What do we give to the area? Well, I had travelled a lot so I knew what NZ was lacking. It was at the time there were all the show off food-  foams etc. We wanted to bring quality, simplistic food, organic wherever possible and definitely in season. But above all we wanted to provide awesome service and be connected which is easy for us as it is such a great place. I was already a sommelier and Maître de and my knowledge of wine had been well nurtured by then.


What are some highlights over the last five years for The Grove?

Opening the door to The Grove was the biggest highlight! It was the culmination of a huge amount of work and a major project, moving out here from the States, finding the place and getting it all up and running. Then the Best Restaurant of the year in Metro that was a great boost as it was recognition of the hard work.


How much is the direction and inspiration of The Grove is influenced by your and Annette’s San Francisco experience?

San Francisco is like an island of food and wine culture in America. I worked there for 15 years and knew I wanted to work in hospitality. Its gateway to the Napa and Sonoma and some of the best Sommeliers in the country reside there. I worked under a guy Harry Stone and tasted alongside him and other sommeliers. It’s like a big farm with seasonal and organic produce at our doorsteps.


You are organic where possible and seasonal.  What are the highlights we can look forward to over the summer?

Zucchini Flowers stuffed with goat’s ricotta with lemon, lime zest with rosemary and thyme herbs. This is the type of food I grew up on. We had a huge garden and ate seasonally and preserved the rest.


What is your favourite dish on The Grove menu right now?

Ben’s seasonal terrines- made with wild game and foie gras, hazelnuts and walnuts. It has an amazing wine match with desert wines and fun at the beginning of the meal.


Your wine list is often commended, how do you get a list like this?

I love weird and esoteric wines. Wines from Bulgaria, Greece and Austria. I love serving wines which people have to ask about and enjoy showing new wines to guests.

People now come to me with unusual or different wines. My time alongside top sommeliers and tasting wines from around the world and friendships with many winemakers in California has meant we have a varied wine list here.


What’s the difference between NZ and Californian Chardonnays?

Californian Chardonnays can have the extracted, ripe round and voluptuous sometimes this can be too much. New Zealand Chardonnays have a grape fruity and citrus character tensioned between the richness and minerality. I am growing more towards the NZ styles.


You have the Odyssey Reserve Iliad Gisborne Chardonnay on the list. What would that pair well with?

We have a risotto on the menu made with individually fried whitebait. There’s an elegance and finesse to the dish and it’s very textural, this goes so well with the Iliad.


What are your favorite American wines on your list right now?

Right now I am enjoying the wines of Nick Unti from Sonoma. I love the way he makes blends from multiple varietals and teams up ancient varietals from Italy for example with modern Zinfandels, Petite Syrah and Mouvrvedre.  Unti wines have a fun aspect about them.

Italians often bring their cuisine and wine with them when they immigrate to create pockets of Italian culture and cuisine.

One cannot help but think that Michael and Annette have brought their own a bit of Italy and San Francisco cuisine with them here in the form of Baduzzi and The Grove, and we are so thankful for that! Yum!

Catching up with Kiwiseed

We caught up with Maren from KiwiSeed to talk about the importance of diversification in plants on vineyards and suitability to different soils. MAren is the horticulture agronomist at KiwiSeed, and she has studied a B SC Horticulture, graduating in 2008. 

Where do you come from and how you got to come to work in Marlborough? How different is it from your home country?

I was born and raised in the green outskirts of busy Berlin, Germany. In comparison, Marlborough has got a lot to offer if you enjoy being outdoor, coast, flats, hills, rivers and generally a much more relaxed attitude.

My parents always encouraged me to travel and see the world early on, so I did. I travelled through Europe, did a high school year in America and travelled around Australia in 2005. I then finished my Bachelor of Science in horticulture back home before my partner and I decided to escape to New Zealand. After travelling for three months, I worked in the Marlborough’s vineyards before I heard Kiwi Seeds owner Bruce was looking for a Horticulturalist. I started the next Monday and haven’t left since, maybe its meant to be!


Maren is a horticultural agronomist at KiwiSeed and is responsible for designing many of the regions vineyards cover crops. Maren can you explain how you start to work out what seeds to prescribe sow on the organic vineyards?

To get a better understanding of my client`s needs I ask some questions:

- What are you trying to achieve – attract beneficial insects or create enormous amounts of biomass to improve soil structure, tilth, nutrient levels, combat soil erosion and so on, or is it a combination of both?

-Are there any water logging issues and what are the soils like?

Its also important to find out if the block will be grazed by sheep or cattle now or in near future and what the future plans are.


How important is biodiversity in a vineyard?

It is very important to increase biodiversity as much as possible in vineyards to reduce the risks related to monoculture. Using cover crops is a great way to regenerate nutrients and our protect soils. Soils hold at least one quarter of the world`s biodiversity and healthy soils are base for healthy food and wine production.


What influence does soil type have on what seeds you sow?

Some plants do better on some soils than others. So to create a blend that will work in a particular vineyard situation you need to know the soil type and what plants to match. The tricky bit is often there are more than just one soil type in a vineyard- dry bony parts and hollows that hold water for long time.


What trends do you see in organic vineyards?

Definitely organic and biodynamic vineyard managers are aware of dangers in monoculture production systems and realise the benefits of diversity. It is great news that more and more blocks here in Marlborough are being converted to organic production sites and even conventional growers are starting to open up to the idea to have a couple rows in wildflowers during the spring/ summer months to attract those beneficial insects.


What’s the most interesting part of your job?

Diversity! I get to look after our Vineyard clients. I am also in charge of all the other seed production contracted to Kiwi Seed. On a daily basis I get to meet very interesting people with great ideas, knowledge and skills.


The Return Of The Cork


The cork, once a disastrous low-quality bacteria breeding ground is making a comeback. The novelty and quality associated with the cork is once again in vogue, while the screw top -albeit convenient- has had its time at the top. Needless to say, there is a personal preference, and Rebecca talked to some of New Zealand’s top restaurants before catching up with Agberico Miranda from cork supplier A Winning Influence to find out more about the improved quality of corks.

James from SPQR said when screw tops first came out twenty years ago he had guests return the bottles saying ‘I don’t want wine with a screw top’, staying true to the cork. Andrew at The French Café says his guests understand that even the high quality wines are under screw top, because of the issue with cork- it can be difficult at the best of times. Dan at Scotch Bar in Blenheim says he would prefer wines under cork as compared screw top as it gives an improved sense of quality!

Rebecca Salmond Winemaker/Owner also met with Alberico Miranda from Hawkes Bay based cork supplier A Winning influence. Alberico is leading the way in New Zealand for corks, and is supplying New Zealand Winemakers at long last with corks we can feel confident in again.

Alberico, 15 years ago the cork industry was in a mess. What are you doing differently nowadays to make sure the quality of the corks is as free as it can be from cork taint? 

Well, I came to NZ 11 years ago and already I was producing my own corks in Portugal so the supply is consistent, and I know exactly where the corks are coming from. Only sourced from the top of the tree, never from the base of the tree and only top grade cork.

Technology and quality control standards have advanced greatly nowadays. We boil the corks twice, we rinse with fresh water and then we refrigerate the corks at the end so there is no potential mould growth. We also package very carefully and transport so there is no chance of contamination.

All corks undergo the Prime-cork treatment to remove as much undesirable characters and cork taint before it leaves Portugal.

After I receive an order from the wineries I work closely with in New Zealand I then go through the batches to double check organoleptically the corks for no incidence of taint, we are getting very good results and more and more winemakers are coming to me for top grade of cork.

Corks are making a comeback in New Zealand, why is that do you think?

The Chinese market has a huge part to play because it insisted and preferred the NZ wines under cork. Therefore the winemakers were still working with the cork and as the consistency got better they began to gain more confidence. Many winemakers still prefer the taste of wine bottled under cork and there are triangular statistical studies to prove this case, especially in ageing wines. Also there is a perception in many markets like Asia and America that the quality of wines is higher under cork than screw and that better margin can be obtained.

With more consistency in the cork many winemakers feel there are just as many or more incidences in faults through screw caps than cork, like the sleeve not sealing properly and oxidation of the wine. Some, and many organic produces like the natural nature of the cork. It also is a point of difference.

At Odyssey Wines, we bottle all the Iliad and Behave wines under cork, as well as the Odyssey Pinot Noir from Marlborough. The aromatic whites and Rose are under screw top as it is a convenience thing and the wines will invariably be drunk young.

So what does it come down to? I suppose personal preference, but it is definitely worth ageing wine under cork, let us know what you prefer. 



Getaway to Fiji -A Q+A With Victoria Wines

Rebecca Salmond talked to Kate, daughter of Liam the founder of Victoria Wines in Fiji to find out what is exciting her about the direction of Victoria Wines, and what Victoria Wines does up in Fiji…

How did Victoria Wines Start?

20 years ago VW was established by Liam to service the restaurant and bars around Fiji. Its still the only dedicated wine importer and distributor here. We taste everything we import and have always maintained stringent controls on temperature etc so the wine is always in perfect condition. 

You mentioned you are working closely with Fiji Tourism what’s happening there?

There is an impressive evolution in Fiji these days whereby the Top Resorts are very committed and focused on offering fine dining experiences with world class cuisine. Victoria Wines sponsors a Food and wine event in Denerau where the top chefs showcase their top dishes. Dishes have a local flair and it’s as fine as you will see anywhere. It is great to be working with these top resorts to help create the ultimate culinary experience. 

Where can you find Odyssey Wines in Fiji?

Vomo Island Resort, Laucala Island Resort, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa,and The Pearl Resort as well as at the Victoria Wines retail shops located in Nadi, Suva and the new store upstairs at Port Denerau.

The retail stores offer a huge selection of wines. The port Denerau store is very handy as it’s at the Port and gateway to the island resorts- a hidden gem in the marina!

Whish Odyssey Wine is your favourite at the moment?

I always love the Odyssey Rose. It’s fresh and light and I love it as an aperitif and then also with a salad or Tuna sashimi. A perfect drink for many occasions. The Iliad Chardonnay is always a favourite also and a wine many people already know about.

Vinaka Kate!


Catching up with Ponsonby Road Bistro

We talked to Sarah Conway Chef and Melissa Morrow front of house extroadinaire of Ponsonby Road Bistro about their new menu, their favourites wines and how to cook with wine at home. 

So tell me a little bit about the history of Ponsonby Road Bistro… How long have you been open and what do you think you bring to the area? 

PBR has been going for 7 years. We pride ourselves in our warm reliable service and love it that we can welcome back so many regulars. It’s a bistro, so it has that kiss-on-the-cheek type of cosy environment. Its important that we can offer a constantly changing menu so that even if you eat here three times a week you can always get something fresh and delicious. We work constantly on the wine and food menus.

What are some highlights over the last five years for PRB?

Gaining a Culinary Hat and maintaining it since our first year with Cuisine, we are 1 of 12 restaurants to do so. We are also consistently in Metro’s top 50.

Your menu is a perfect balance between wholesome food and fine dining. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Ethos is very much extension of our personalities.  Generosity of flavour, size and warmth of spirit and welcomeness are important to us. It is also very healthy, Sarah has studied Natural Nutrition and many of the dishes will feature pulses and be gluten free. We use rice flours as well, so if you feel great after dining here this is one of the reasons why. We also travel extensively and make sure we read all the time.

Your menu changes every three weeks, what can we expect to see on leading into summer? Any stand out dishes?

Cerviche and the Margarita Pizza with raw cherry tomatoes of various bright colours and buffalo mozzarella.

 What is your favourite dish on the menu right now?

The Manti, it is back due to popular demand!

 Your wine list is often commended, how do you get a list like this?

Like the food list, we constantly work on the wine list.  We work to find delicious wines at a reasonable price which can be a challenge. Hand on my heart, there is nothing on this list unless we love it! Its like on the food menu and runs parallel with it; it needs to be global, interesting, and quirky. Melissa also loves blended wines.

You stock both our Chardonnay ‘Iliad” and our Pinot Noir ‘Behave’, and they have been on your wine list for a long time! What is it that you think your customers like about Odyssey Wines?

We have had Odyssey Wines on the list since we started! We have some staples which we just cant remove, they are benchmark wines just like with the food, the Southern Clams are a signature dish, and our Cream brûlée too! We love the Odyssey wines, they are local, the quality is consistent, and it is nice to deal with Rebecca the winemaker, they sit well price wise they age well.

What is the perfect dish at PRB to match with our Chardonnay? 

Odyssey Reserve Iliad Chardonnay and the Southern Clams with shallots, thyme, garlic with a splash of Odyssey Chardonnay and cream and grilled sourdough.

And how about the Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir, the duck confit with crab apple jelly and duck rosemary toasties and a bitter leaf salad, divine!

PRB food is rich in flavour. What would you say are you top tip for cooking with wine at home?

Cook with the same wine which you are serving. If you don’t cook for long, the flavours will still come out in the food. The rich flavour also comes down to our Suppliers. Over time and without preconception we have ended up with suppliers who are organic or biodynamic. Its like a thread of contacts who all are inter-connected in some way – the silver threads in life that bind it all together.

There is very much an energy heart and soul at PRB!