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Young Winemaker a Hawke’s Bay poster girl

November 25, 2009

EIT graduate Renée Dale laughs when her father calls her the “poster girl” of Hawke’s Bay.

The Aucklander, who was valedictorian of her class and capped with a Bachelor of Wine Science last year, has produced a poster featuring images of cellar doors at Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa wineries.

The poster is a montage of photos she’s taken of doors at 43 different wineries.

Renee’s father is a former New Zealand Herald photographer, and she says she developed her passion for photography through osmosis.   Now a freelancer, Geoffrey Dale owns a wrapping paper design business and was excited about putting Renee’s concept for a poster to print.

She is on her way to completing a Winery Doors poster series of all New Zealand’s wine regions by the end of February next year.

For her first effort, Renee says it helped already knowing people locally, having spent three years working and studying in Hawke’s Bay Wine Country.

“By the time I’ve finished, I will have visited every winery in New Zealand.  If anyone wants to know this industry inside and out, having a way of funding a complete wine trail nationwide is one amazing experience.

This year, a research poster she did as an assignment in her final year of study at EIT was chosen to display at the Romeo Bragato Conference held for winegrowers nationwide at Napier’s Pettigrew.Green Arena.

Renée also made her mark as a young winemaker to watch by winning the Romeo Bragato exchange scholarship in 2006.  The award, jointly funded by EIT, Taradale Rotary Club, Hawke’s Bay Grape Growers Association and New Zealand Winegrowers, took her on a month-long study tour of Italy.

Asked to be part of EIT’s new marketing strategy, she was photographed just before departing on the trip.   Returning from visiting Italy’s premier viticultural training institute in Conegliano and exploring the country’s  leading winegrowing regions and wineries, she was taken aback to find her face plastered around campus on a poster promoting EIT’s wine science degree.

“Later I heard that my friends around the countryside had seen my face on the side of an EIT car.

Needless to say, I was very embarrassed!”

Now she thinks it’s ironic to be promoting her own posters, encouraging wineries to sell them to cellar door visitors.

“I have a deep passion for all things New Zealand and all things wine,” she says. “Now I have a passion for New Zealand winery doors!”

The poster venture is another achievement in a list that has included work stints for Villa Maria in Auckland, California’s Stags’ Leap Winery and Coldstream Hills Winery in Australia’s Yarra Valley.

Right now, she is enjoying working as harvest enologist at Pride Mountain Vineyards in the Napa Valley, the USA’s most highly regarded wine region.

“Eventually I want to return to New Zealand to live and make wine – whether that’s my own label or for someone else.  I will always want to make wine.  Working with grapes, the yeast, the wine, is where I feel at home, no matter where I am in the world.”