The Banquet of the Golden Plate

jen and destemmer

‘The key to success is finding something you love and doing it with all your heart.’

Maya Angelou passed this wisdom onto Jen Parr when they both attended The Banquet of The Golden Plate. Jen was a young graduate attending the American Academy of Achievement’s famous dinner at the time.

Jen ended up selling financial software and discovered wine as she travelled doing this. These wise words stayed with her, and she began to realise that it was wine she had a real passion for. The opportunities she’d been given meant the motivation to find her passion was significant.

Coming to that realisation much later in her career than many people used to concern her, but with hindsight she can see it meant the bliss of ignorance and the ability to approach winemaking with an open mind.


Jen setting boundaries from the early days!

Jen setting boundaries from the early days!


Her path eventually lead her to Central Otago, where people such as Matt Connell saw her potential and supported what she bought to this pioneering wine community.

She now has the opportunity to pay back that faith and feels strongly about doing so. She wants to continue writing the history of Central Otago wine, which unfolds as she lives it. She wants to protect the provenance created and the constitution written, fully supporting others prepared to pick up the flag and wave it.


“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” -Maya Angelou.


A common theme in a young and pioneering wine industry such as New Zealand is the recognition that it won’t all be achieved in our lifetimes. Jen acknowledges this, and sees herself as a trail finder, or a pointer towards where things may head. Wine is undoubtedly a journey and not a destination. She currently works for Grant Taylor at Valli Wines. She’s excited by his combination of experience but continued inquisitiveness, and feels that she’s been employed to continue this energy and questioning.


The Valli team, including Grant Taylor on the left.

The Valli team, including Grant Taylor (left).


She loves giving younger people’s ideas wings now, and can appreciate their perspective.

One of the challenges she puts to the NZ wine community is to showcase more of the diversity of our people, particularly women. She feels we are blessed with talented women but their visibility is limited.


“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breaths away” –Maya Angelou


Achieving balance is pretty important to Jen, both an opportunity and a challenge in a landscape like Central Otago. Its environment means you need to be open to the extremes it can deliver, and take energy from the place. If wine people can be summed up it is by the word ‘generosity’, and is seen at its best when we are sharing ideas and helping others. Both NZ’s landscape and wine command humility and tenacity. We hope nature will be generous and see bounty as karma.


Beside many amazing women is a pretty cool dad!

Beside many amazing women is a pretty cool dad!


It’s this spirit that Jen is looking forward to at Pinot Noir NZ 2017. A sort of shared banquet of many golden plates. A seat at our table of generosity.


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