Two Birds Brewing’s tasting room ‘The Nest’ is in Spotswood.

Courtney Sang

Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Supervisor Obsidian Wines, Waiheke, New Zealand

Congratulations on being awarded the 2021 Corteva Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year. Do you have any advice for people looking to start a career in viticulture?
Thank you so much! It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to any young viticulturists starting out in New Zealand. The best advice I can give is to find somewhere to work that is challenging, and find a mentor who will answer all your questions. Here at Obsidian, I have worked with vineyard manager Tim Adams and winemaker Mike Wood. They have been amazing mentors and have helped me develop my skills as a vigneron. 

Tell us about Waiheke.
Waiheke Island has a unique maritime microclimate, with steep slopes and clay-based soils. We also regularly fight off tropical cyclones during harvest periods here. It is a challenging region to make wine but we are rewarded with carefully crafted wines that are able to stand up against many of New Zealand’s wine regions.

What is your approach to viticulture and winemaking at Obsidian Wines?
The Obsidian vineyard expresses an even smaller microclimate on the island, namely the Onetangi basin. The vineyard is nurturing some of the oldest vines on the island and we combine this with relatively hands-off winemaking that expresses the terroir. It is particularly hot here, and the vines are all northerly facing, soaking in the sun.

Do you have a favourite wine you enjoy working with? 
My favourite wine that we produce at Obsidian is called The Mayor, which is a cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec blend. Each of the varieties are picked and fermented separately, and I love seeing how each of the components progress through ferment and before they are blended together. 

Who are some of your favourite New Zealand wine producers at the moment?
I’ve been getting into Martinborough wines recently, especially chardonnay. A few that I’ve really enjoyed are from Palliser Estate, Ata Rangi and Dry River.