Brent Laidlaw – Tutor & Winemaker

EIT Tairawhiti’s newest viticulture and winemaking tutor joins the team with a rather impressive track record in the wider wine industry.

Brent Laidlaw worked for industry giant Montana for more than 16 years. He may have started in a temporary vintage position, but his talent was quickly recognised and as Senior Winemaker, Brent has been responsible for some of Montana’s most applauded wines.

It was his touch that proved gold for the likes of the Huntaway series, the Estate Letter Series, the Terroir series and others. And now, after a self-imposed year-and-a-half-long break that gave him more time with his growing young family, Brent is ready to contribute to the industry from a different side. “The blend of commercial and learning is such a key for our students,” he says. “They get a great balance of theory which gives them a good solid base combined with the hands on practical experience in a commercial setting.”

Students not only tend vineyards, but also assist with harvesting and the wine making for the EIT’s own Waimata Wines labels. Brent, who also did a vintage in France in 2000, says he loves the balance of training people while still working in a winery. “It’s similar to what you do in the industry but in such a unique setting,” he says, “and it’s nice to be able to step back from the corporate world just a little, while still staying involved. “The polytechnic has a solid track record in wine and I’m looking forward to continuing the great work completed by tutors before me.”