Skip to main content

ODP - Wine BookIn recent years, Wel­ling­ton has become known as a mag­net for film­mak­ing tal­ent from all over the world, but it was wine-mak­ing that brought two Hol­ly­wood pro­du­cers to Marl­bor­ough to see if they could rep­lic­ate California’s oth­er great industry in New Zealand.

Joanne and Bruce Kern­er both enjoyed suc­cess­ful pro­du­cing careers in Hol­ly­wood, with involve­ment in pro­jects as diverse as The Cosby Show and the Ter­min­at­or movies. But it was while they were on vaca­tion in Marl­bor­ough in the 1990s that these lifelong wine fans made the decision to move to New Zea­l­and and start mak­ing wine.

Not want­ing simply to rep­lic­ate the loc­al cash crop of Sauvign­on Blanc, the Kern­ers were inter­ested in grow­ing Pinot Blanc, an altern­at­ive vari­ety that Joanne had fallen in love with in Cali­for­nia. “I star­ted drink­ing Pinot Blanc when I got tired of the big, over-oaked Cali­for­nia Chardon­nays and was look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent,” she says. So along­side tra­di­tion­al vari­et­ies, the Kern­ers planted 5 hec­tares of Pinot Blanc and have cre­ated a unique Kiwi wine.

Pinot Blanc is a muta­tion of Pinot Noir and (like Chardon­nay) has a repu­ta­tion as a wine-maker’s wine — for the dif­fer­ent ways the wine-maker can shape the end res­ult. Pinot Blanc is often likened to Pinot Gris, but Joanne believes the vari­ety to be super­i­or in that it offers more complexity.

The suc­cess of the Kern­ers’ Pinot Blanc has prob­ably sur­prised every­one except the Kern­ers. Joanne believes the vari­ety grows bet­ter in New Zea­l­and than any­where else in the world and is sur­prised the vari­ety is not more pro­lif­ic here. She has a point. Pinot Blanc as a straight vari­ety is not overly com­mon any­where in the world. Even in Alsace, where the grape is widely planted, the Pinot Blanc des­ig­na­tion is usu­ally a blend of Pinot vari­et­ies. This lack of a home region and a defin­ing style promp­ted New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov to accuse Pinot Blanc of being a “phantom grape” and a “cipher”. Joanne Kern­er thinks she has found Pinot Blanc a new home in New Zealand.


kerner pinot blanc

July Recommendation

Kern­er Estate 2010 Pinot Blanc

Of appeal to Pinot Gris drink­ers want­ing a bit more, this fant­ast­ic­ally bal­anced wine is char­ac­ter­ised by a creamy tex­ture with rich fruit fla­vours and a lovely crisp acid­ity. The wine is fer­men­ted in older oak bar­rels, adding rich­ness and com­plex­ity to the wine but not over­whelm­ing it.

Retail price: $30

Avail­able in Wel­ling­ton at: Centre City Wines and Spir­its, Wine­seeker, Thorndon New World,




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.