Winemaker, Felton Road
Winemaking was written in the stars for Blair Walter of Felton Road from an early age, growing up on a farm in rural Waikato and moving south to study Horticultural Science at Lincoln University (Canterbury, N.Z.) Yet before he graduated with First Class Honours, he spent a year being involved with the viticulture and wine sensory evaluation programs at Oregon State University. He’d well and truly caught the wine bug by then and went on to work in vineyards and wineries in Burgundy, Oregon, California, Australia and of course, New Zealand.
Twenty one years ago Blair started at Felton Road, planning and readying the winery for its inaugural vintage in 1997 where his skill and international experience as winemaker evolved into a minimalist approach. For Walter, it’s always been about making wines in the simplest, gentlest, most hands-free way possible. Keeping pace with development in Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production around the world lead to him travelling extensively, but when he does manage to tear himself away from the winery for an hour or three, you likely to find him tinkering with his Messerschmitt plane (he’s had his pilot’s license for five years) which makes his boat, (lonely on the shores of Lake Dunstan), very unhappy indeed.