It can be argued that New Zealand's flagship varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, owes its worldwide pre-eminence to Matua Valley’s pioneering of the variety in New Zealand back in 1974. Matua was created by brothers Ross and Bill Spence, who grew up in a winemaking family in West Auckland.
In true Kiwi spirit, while holding down full-time jobs, the brothers produced their initial wines at the weekends and in the evenings within a leased tin shed. This hardy endeavour included, in 1974, our first Sauvignon Blanc. Today, the winery with such humble beginnings is one of New Zealand's most respected and awarded producers.
Greg’s relationship with Matua began in 1997, when during his final year of high school he wrote to the team asking for advice on how to become a winemaker. Our then Chief Winemaker offered some tips – and who knew that they would be so foretelling (and Greg such a bright spark) that he would later work his way up the ranks from Cellar Hand to Masters scholar and all the way to the top!
Greg first considered a career in wine as he had always enjoyed science and his mum suggested it could be a good fit - which he now suspects had something to do with her also liking the fruit of his labour... Not soon after, he tried his first glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and unlike other wines he’d come across he was marvelled by how it could be so packed with flavour. His curiosity for the industry was piqued.
After completing a Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland, Greg was offered a postgraduate scholarship. With six months to go before commencing a Masters in Science degree majoring in Winemaking, Greg again got in touch with Matua and scored his first role there working in the cellar in 2002.
Continuing to work while studying, Greg conducted his research in conjunction with Matua, writing his thesis on the evolution of volatile aromatics during micro-oxygenation - potentially not the most glamorous of research topics - but it did land him both a government scholarship and promotion at Matua to Cellar Hand/Assistant Winemaker. From there Greg undertook vintages in France and Marlborough while advancing to Auckland Site Winemaker, Marlborough Senior Winemaker and then in 2016 Chief Winemaker.
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