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The single vineyard ‘Pioneer Block’ wines of Saint Clair require separate handling, the winery using 250 small tanks to manage this. The amount of detail for winemakers Matt Thomson and Hamish Clark and their team is considerable, but the result is a fascinating range of wines that express their origin and site. In essence Saint Clair is bottling ‘terroir’ for keen wine enthusiasts to ponder and enjoy. The quality per se of the ‘Pioneer Block’ wines has been extremely high as well, reflecting the identification of superior as well as individual vineyards by Saint Clair’s owner Neal Ibbotson.
Neal & Judy Ibbotson
Neal and Judy Ibbotson’s extensive viticulture experience have allowed them to identify the best areas and sites in Marlborough. Since 1978 they gradually purchased land at six different Marlborough locations (including the Rapaura, Awatere, Waihopai and Omaka Valleys) and built up an excellent knowledge of what varieties do best in each of the sites. They then either replanted or top grafted their vineyards accordingly on each site.
Neal & Judy Ibbotson
The Ibbotson Family
Saint Clair Estate Wines is a family business with the next generation also involved.
Son Tony looks after the design and branding. Tony has his own design consultancy business, The Creative Method, in Surry Hills, Sydney. Tony designed the original Saint Clair labels back in 1994, when he was a design student. He has been designing and expanding the range of Saint Clair labels ever since.
Daughters Sarina and Julie both work within the business in sales and marketing after studying Wine Business Marketing at Adelaide University.
THE IBBOTSON FAMILY
(from left) Tony, Sarina, Julie, Neal & Judy
Saint Clair has one of the leading winemaking teams in the country headed by Matt Thomson (B.Sc and M.Sc Biochem, Otago). Matt has been involved with Saint Clair since its inception in 1994. He also has had winemaking experience on a regular basis in a number of areas in Italy and in Bordeaux.
Matt is uncompromising on quality. Comparatively little emphasis is placed on technological gadgetry. This natural, uncluttered approach helps produce wines with distinctive characters, which are clearly appreciated by an increasingly sophisticated wine drinking public in an increasing number of world markets.
Up until harvest Matt spends most of his time monitoring the changing flavour profile of the grapes. He notes the difference in flavour between bunches and between the different vineyard areas to ensure that they are picked at optimum time. Neal says, “Matt has a great palate and tremendous skill for optimising these grape flavours at harvest.”
Matt’s skills and the time he spends in the vineyard are extremely important in Saint Clair’s viticulture and winemaking process and they are being rewarded through the outstanding quality of their wines.
Chief Winemaker / Viticulturist
Hamish Clark is the winery’s senior winemaker and has worked for Saint Clair since 2001. He works alongside Matt Thomson leading the winemaking team. Hamish has a unique background with a BSC in Microbiology and BSC in Zoology from Otago University. He gained a significant placement in an experienced team in the DNA Forensics Department with the Forensic Science Services at the Home Office UK. He also worked as a Medical Laboratory Assistant in various hospitals across the continent while he indulged his passion for wine.
Hamish has held a range of positions at Saint Clair including Lab Manager and Cellar Hand in 2001, Assistant Winemaker and Lab Manager in 2002 and Red Wine Winemaker from 2003 until 2006. Hamish is very passionate about the wines he makes for Saint Clair and is a key member of the winemaking team.
CHEIF WINEMAKER / VITICULTURIST
Click on thumbnails below to view the extended team who help to make Saint Clair Wines great!
from left: Stu, Heather, Kyle, Chloe, Hame
Consultant Winemaker - Matt Thomson
Chief Winemaker / Viticulturist - Hamish Clark
Red Winemaker - Kyle Thompson
White Winemaker – Stewart Maclennan
Assistant Red Winemaker / Grower Liaison - Chloe Gabrielsen
Assistant White Winemaker - Heather Stewart
Winemaker Administrator / Health & Safety Manager - Megan Simmonds
Cellar Master – Stacey Lowther
Cellar Hands - Gemma Cording, Bob Voracek, Jonathan Southee, Deidre Whakatihi
- Glen Herkt
Les & Sonya Masters: Les and Sonya initially worked as contract pruners on Saint Clair’s Rapaura Block and now manage the six Saint Clair Vineyards.
Malcolm Adams: Malcolm joined the Saint Clair team in 2008 as their viticulturist after having run a Vineyard Development and Management Company for 10 years. He sold this company in 2009 to concentrate on clients for Saint Clair.
Malcolm has extensive vineyard knowledge, having been involved in the industry since 1987 and has his own vineyards as well as a passion for empowering Saint Clair Family Estate wine growers to be able to strive for the highest quality within their vineyards.
Colin MacKay: Colin MacKay is also a contract grower for Saint Clair who works in the area of grower liaison.
from left: Tracey, Nikki, Mary, Liz, Maria, Kath & Sarah (Absent: Darren)
Liz Chapman has been employed by the Ibbotson family for over 20 years and is the Production Manager. Liz is an integral part of Saint Clair and is widely involved in many aspects of the business.
Nikki de Reeper is Saint Clair Chief Financial Controller and office manager overseeing all administration aspects for the group.
Sarah Lissaman is the export account manager who liaises with Saint Clair’s export customers organising allocations and orders.
Maria Easton is the office administrator who is responsible for the management of wine competitions and accolades.
Mary Coughlan is responsible for internet wine sales orders and assists with accolades and wine competitions.
Kath Daubney is the office receptionist who also assists with dispatching wine samples to over 50 world markets and helps maintain our customer database.
Tracey Gilmore is the accounts payable administrator and also assists with other administrative duties.
Alex Pottinger is responsible for Saint Clair stock control including dry and finished goods.
Julie Sowman is Saint Clair’s logistics administrator who assists with shipping exports and distributor requests.
SAINT CLAIR VINEYARD KITCHEN
from left: Stefan Wernli (Restaurant Manager)
& Keith Gregory (Head Chef)
They provide all day food, wines, coffees and teas. See menu here.
The knowledgeable staff will be happy to spend some time taking you through the Saint Clair range of award winning wines.
For more information on the Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen click here
Mark Shaw is part of the wider Ibbotson family (married to Sarina).
He manages the Saint Clair Twitter
and Face Book
Based in Blenheim Mark is also known as the Wine Geek. For more information about Mark take a look at his personal website www.wine.geek.nz.