The family business has thrived through the years thanks to a tight-knit approach and an unwavering focus and all-consuming passion for all things fine wine.
Owners Denis and Ulrike are proud of their hands-on approach to the winery. Be it rolling up the sleeves and getting stuck in amongst the vines, or working closely with winemaker Dean Shaw, or simply welcoming wine enthusiasts and aficionados to their place, they love what they do with this land – and love sharing it with others.
Be it with his time farming in the Rangitikei District, his work over many years serving New Zealand in public office, or his subsequent role in raising funds to support our county’s nature conservation, Denis has always had a deep, enduring respect and love for the land.
This lifelong passion for conservation lead him to found the NZ National Parks & Conservation Foundation in 2000 and its new brand The New Zealand Nature Fund in 2020. It is a charitable organisation dedicated to raising and managing funds for important conservation projects throughout NZ. And it led him to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Central Otago, with its precious raw beauty.
Sometimes being involved with wine can just be in your blood. Ulrike grew up in the Rhineland, one of Germany’s famous wine regions. From an early age she remembers tasting wine with her family, and she remembers their influence in her subsequent appreciation for quality wine and the craft of wine making.
After this upbringing she would go on to gain degrees in Food Technology and Art & Design and to teach in Germany, England and New Zealand. It was while based in London that she studied for a WSET diploma, ensuring a greater depth of knowledge to her current work. Now helping lead Hawkshead; her love of wine, food and creativity provides the perfect mix for a rewarding life.
After studying tourism in Wellington, Renee ventured to the South Island with a vision of exploring her backyard before travelling aboard. Then, like many ‘temporary’ travellers to this magical place, she found herself comfortably ensnared in a career lifestyle ideal for her talents.
Sixteen years later Renee’s experience in multiple tourism and hospitality ventures, including several years as a guide on the Routeburn Track, serve her well in her work here. The adventure continues and, be it exploring new wines for her WSET Diploma, planning a weekend getaway, or running after her young daughter, Emiko, she always has something interesting to contribute.
Fritz & Otto
Like many involved in the Gibbston wine-growing region, Fritz appreciates a good routine. Ideally a well-planned day for this miniature longhair dachshund would include chasing rabbits, eating, sleeping and running. Hailing from the North Island originally, Fritz has certainly found his home here amongst the sun, snow and vines of Central Otago. Indeed, if he could have his way he’d stay close to home and travel everywhere by paw – riding in the car is always a little stressful for Friederich, Baron de Würste Saucisson.
Perhaps it’s due to his local upbringing and Australian parents but, while his full name is Beckrova Black Diamond, our laidback miniature longhair dachshund prefers to be called Otto by his peers and workmates. Like his winery partner, Fritz, he’s more than happy roaming about the vineyard, sniffing out whatever is on the ground and in the wind. Otto is more content to take life at a more relaxed pace however, content with a slow ambulation through the grounds. Asked to name three of his favourite things the answer is clear: “Food, food and food,” says Otto.