In honor of Women's History Month, we spoke with some of the top women winemakers working in the industry today to learn more about them, their craft, and the wines they produce. Stay tuned throughout the month of March as we update this women in wine series with more interviews and be sure to check out our wine list featuring wineries who have women winemakers on staff.
Named by The Drinks Business as one of the World’s Most Influential Women in Wine in 2018, Natalie is a gifted woman winemaker with well over a decade of winemaking experience. She joined the Yealands team in 2015 and became Chief Winemaker in 2018.
Wine.com: As Chief Winemaker at Yealands, is there a style of Sauvignon Blanc you aim to produce?
Natalie Christensen: My main aim with Sauvignon Blanc
is to really let the site and season shine, so I let our beautiful coastal vineyard site drive the style. Being based in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, which is a bit cooler and drier than the Wairau Valley, our Sauvignon Blanc tends to be intense, with an elegant, mineral texture.
W: Not too many people can claim a graduate degree in Oenology, a Master of Science, and a Bachelor of Music, in addition to being classically trained double bass player. What else might people be surprised to know about your path to Chief Winemaker?
NC: Not sure if it helped on my way to being Chief Winemaker… but I hosted the best birthday party last year for my elderly cat named Baa! I had a sweet sixteen party for her and it was next level. A friend made a cake in the shape of a fish (for human consumption – it was a salted caramel and chocolate cake!) and we had a load of decorations and beautiful wine and food. Friends dressed up in their best cat t-shirts or animal print and we celebrated in style. I think Baa had a good time too :) I love animals – I also have two chickens (silver laced Wyandottes) called Ellen and Portia.
W: Most people think of Sauvignon Blanc when they think of New Zealand wine
, but your Pinots blew our team away. In two words, can you sum up the magic of your Pinot Noir?
NC: Two words… Velvety deliciousness!
W: You've spoken about the importance of mentoring other woman in the wine industry; what is one piece of advice you give to women looking to make a career in wine?
NC: Be brave and have a go! I think as women we quite often second guess ourselves and we like to be fully equipped and prepared before we put our hands up for something that we really want. Life is an adventure, and it is when we step out into the unknown (that space that makes you nervous and your tummy feel funny) that magic and growth happens.
W: What is your can’t-fail food and wine pairing?
NC: Sauvignon Blanc from our coastal vineyard, aptly named Seaview Vineyard, has a beautiful salty, minerality to it. It is a foolproof pairing with anything from the ocean. It goes especially well with oysters and our local New Zealand delicacy, green lipped mussels.
W: If we were to take a cellar dive into your personal wine collection, what would we find?
NC: Lots of Gamay Noir… I have a thing for Beaujolais. Such a fun and delicious grape variety. We have recently planted some and I can’t wait to see how ours looks! I also love German Riesling
. Last year I was lucky enough to visit the Mosel and I was blown away by the beauty of the region and the incredible wines. I have a nice spread of bits and bobs from all over, but Riesling and Gamay feature heavily.
Thank you, Natalie!
Stay tuned throughout the month of March for more interviews from women in wine and opportunities to shop wines from women winemakers. Cheers!