About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gavin - "The Wine Guy"

Encouraged by my good friends - during the festive break, I have written down a few of the lesser known details about my background in wine.
During the 1980’s as a teenager, I grew up in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand - with just a small farm separating my parent’s home from several vineyards and two small wineries. At the time I thought it normal to grow up in a home with both parents very much interested in international cuisine and having wine on the table with a meal on a regular basis. This exposure to quality ingredients, flavours and varied wine styles would hold me in good stead as a young adult. As in 1989 during my second year of completing a degree in Bachelor of Sciences at Auckland University - I began to work part-time at a fine wine retail store named Glengarry Wines.

I started in the wine industry well before barcodes were common place on each bottle, the internet and websites and for many wines not even tasting notes on their back-labels. So we had to memories all the codes, prices and details of each producer, winemaker and wine style - so I could explain to each new customer the history and personality of every wine in the shop. On a regular basis we sampled the wines (testing each other, by pouring the wines blind) - and having the opportunity to meet and talk with local and international winemakers.
In 1990 I travelled through Europe, visiting Italy, Switzerland and France - and I started to appreciate the local cuisine matched with indigenous grape varietals and wine styles and it was here that I realised I had the ability to recognise and remember wine styles and how they complimented each course and traditional dish, whether lunch or dinner, fish or meat cuisine.
On my return in 1991 - I started to regularly visit wineries around New Zealand - and within a short period of time I had developed a considerable first hand experience and knowledge of the local wine scene, while at the same time managing several Glengarry retail stores and winning at the time the top retailer award (voted for by the public) for service on 2 occasions (with the dream team at Jervois Rd) and the best wine store on 3 occasions.


In 1996 I decided to follow on with my University education and accomplish a Post-Graduate degree in Business Marketing - while at the same time working for a short period with the Villa Maria Wine Group building their ON-Premise (Fine Dining, Restaurant) market in Auckland. As well as having first-hand access to the wines made by one of the country’s top winemaker Michelle Richardson (named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in 1997 and 1998) during my time there - and has continued on with her outstanding career. I also put my hand up in my spare time to work with Steve Smith MW (the country’s leading viticulturist) in the vineyards, sampling grapes during the growing season and harvest. It was also during this period - I started to write a monthly wine publication and hosting wine tastings and wine education sessions for the trade and public.
In 1999 I started up my own marketing business, where I focused on new product design and business development planning. Plus working on wine projects for small family owned boutique wineries.
Through-out this entire period, for a month or more - I was making my own way to visit new and interesting wine regions throughout Europe - adding to my wine experiences and relationships with winemakers. In the late 1990’s I started being invited to be a part of the blending sessions for wineries in both New Zealand and Europe and began making decisions on final wine styles. Over the past 10+ years my involvement with blending and making wines has increased greatly and involves several wineries around the world - achieving great success and awards with wines I have been involved with.
In 2002 I joined the team at Hancocks Wine & Spirit Distributors (based in Auckland, NZ) and spent 2 years working closely with their agency wine portfolio as marketing manager, building brands in both Off & ON-Premise channels around the country. 2004 I worked on re-designing the website at Hancocks and developed their database marketing activity in 2006 - along with designing and developing the Hancocks trade tastings and wine education classes around the country. In the same year I took on the role of; ‘Wine Ambassador’ for over 60 international wine brands distributed in NZ.
In 2009 I decided to take a 3 month sabbatical - to further develop my wine knowledge spending this time in Europe staying with several dynamic wine families and businesses across Europe.

Over the years - I have had numerous opportunities and memorable wine moments; for example one that is interesting to me includes meeting ‘Chef de Cave’ - Dominique Petit at both Krug in the early 1990’s then again more recently as ‘Chef de Cave’ at Pol Roger Champagne and experiencing first hand his interpretation and skill to craft each unique 'house style'.
 Having a private tour (with 3 of my best wine friends) of Chateau Gruaud Larose in St Julien, Bordeaux-France, hosted by the chef winemaker Georges Pauli (an event in itself) - and taking us through a tasting of barrel samples, current and aged vintages.
 Being part of a ‘Vin-Clair’ tasting in Reims, France - with arguably the world’s finest Champagne maker Regis Camus (awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' 7 times - by the International Wine Challenge) - working through the components that make Piper and Charles Heidsieck Champagne.

 Being invited by Frédéric Jaboulet to experience 3 unforgettable days visiting all of their vineyard sites throughout the Rhone Valley - France, tasting the grapes from the vine, tasting the soils, having explained the fine details of every unique site by the dedicated viticulture team. Culminating with a vertical tasting hosted by their senior winemaker Jacques Desvernois - held in their barrel hall/caves, where they age their wines - and yes this included the iconic Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle.
 Given the opportunity to stand just a few feet away from the extremely talented craftsmen at Riedel (in Kufstein, Austria) - as they skilfully mouth-blew their grape specific stemware.

 In October 2009 - possibly 2 of the best days of my career, were hosting a private tour for Hugh Johnson, and his wife Judy here in Auckland, New Zealand. For two days having Hugh Johnson to talk with about wine, taste the same wines and have Hugh describe each wine in turn, but more importantly - give you the background to the grape, examples of different interpretations of the same grape from different countries, age of vine and winemaking techniques.
Generally when it comes to describing a wine to another - there are two types of people. Those that draw a stick figure - and there are a few who can draw, even paint in colour a personality and even fine detail. But there are a select few and Hugh was the first to do so in his ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ (first edition published in 1971) and is arguably the world’s best - to describe a wine so well that he introduces a 3rd dimension that makes you part of that picture and you start to feel like you are there picking the grapes in the vineyard, during that year.

 Being hosted - by not one, but by 2 renowned family ‘Port Houses’ in the heart of the Douro Valley in Portugal - Quinta de la Rosa & Barros (climbing the breathtaking stone terraces, possibly the 8th wonder of the world) - and tasting some of the finest wines known.
 Being given an incredible honour - one in which I still pinch myself on a regular basis - was being presented with a full barrel of quality Sherry - (that I was asked to write a quote, sign and date 18-7-2011) by the renowned house of Osborne in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain.

During the past 22+ professional wine years - I have invested in myself and have seen first-hand, the development from breaking soil - right through to sampling the finest wines in old and new wineries across Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other wine regions around the world.
Over the years - with my graphic design skills - I have developed and designed several ‘new’ wine labels/brands that are on the market. For the past few years - I have focused on sharing my knowledge and educating the wine industry, both young and experienced staff on service, winemaking, wine styles and regions from around the world, food and wine matching to name just a few of the wine classes I have designed and run across the country, plus having hosted several events and tastings across Europe.
The past few years my writing has also increased considerably with over 1000 articles and most recently the huge growth and interest around the world of my wine-blog - ‘The Wine Guy’.

So a big thank you - I hope you enjoy my short wine articles for everyday reading and for those in the wine industry - I hope you find this site of value in understanding what is a complex - but ever so interesting industry that is never standing still.

So as I say after every wine tasting: “Wine is at its best when sipped, savoured and shared, with good food and friends” - so good health and happy reading of my future wine articles.

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