Woman wins winemaker of the year title

Central Otago winemaker Jen Parr of Valli Vineyards has been named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2020 by Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine. “Her experience and attention to detail serve her well when creating wines of great quality and sense of place," said Gourmet Traveller Wine editor Judy Sarriss, at the awards held it the Grand Hotel in Auckland on Monday 20 January. 

Parr is one of the three winemakers who creates the four Valli Pinot Noirs every year; the wines make up some of the most interesting comparative Pinots in the region; all are made along the same guidelines but from very different climates and soils in the wider Otago area. She works with Valli owner and founder Grant Taylor and fellow winemaker Karl Coombes.

Parr was born in Oregon and now lives in Central Otago where she has been making wine for over a decade; at Olssen’s (now Terra Sancta) and now at Valli Vineyards, which she joined in 2015. She also consults to Wild Earth, Kinross, Stewart Town Vineyard, and Black Quail wine brands. 

Valli Vineyards founder and fellow winemaker Grant Taylor describes Jen Parr as the most thoughtful winemaker he knows.

“We are a small team of three winemakers who click.  I don’t think the Rolling Stones in their heyday worked together as well as we do. We share everything but perhaps nothing as much as our pride in each others’ successes”

The finalists for the Winemaker of the Year competition were chosen by a judging panel chaired by Bob Campbell MW, alongside industry stalwarts Cameron Douglas MS and Liz Wheadon.