Four pioneers of the Marlborough wine industry have been presented with Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Awards at a celebration dinner in Blenheim.
James Healy, Dave Pearce, Tessa Anderson and Murray Gibbons were recognised at The Marlborough Wine Celebration Evening, which also celebrated 50 years since the beginning of the modern Marlborough wine industry.
This year was the first year that four recipients have received the award in one year, each having demonstrated tireless dedication to the industry for the best part of five decades.
The Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award aims to recognise nominees who have longevity of service to the Marlborough wine industry, unselfishly given their time to the industry, made a lasting impact and demonstrated a lifetime of multiple quality achievements.
Nominees are put forward to the Marlborough Winegrowers board to vote on.
Wine Marlborough Ltd General Manager Marcus Pickens says to have picked just one of the recipients proved too difficult for the board this year.
“These are people who have dedicated much of their lives to championing the Marlborough wine industry, and the wonderful wines we’re capable of delivering,” he says.
“To be able to recognise them at this special event was a real honour.”
James Healy has been in the wine industry for more than 40 years, starting at Corbans Wines in Auckland, before moving to Marlborough in 1991 to become a winemaker at Cloudy Bay. Later, alongside viticulturist Ivan Sutherland, he started the immensely successful Dog Point Vineyard.
A creative and adventurous winemaker, James got involved in many key industry activities from the get-go, becoming a member of many inaugural knowledge-sharing events for winemakers. He is highly regarded as being a mentor and supporter of many in the industry.
Dave Pearce also began his career at Corbans Wines, and was part of a group of enthusiasts who started Grove Mill at the historic Malt House in Grovetown in 1988. He’s been a winemaker of significant acclaim for over two decades, particularly while Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was earning its global reputation and its style was being refined.
In recent years, Dave’s extensive experience helped design VinLink, the first dedicated client-focused winery designed to make contract winemaking a more streamlined process. Dave is known for being generous with his time and knowledge and has been a trailblazer in the wine industry sustainability space, launching Grove Mill on a carbon-neutrality pathway years ahead of others in the industry.
Tessa Anderson has been writing about Marlborough wine since 1996. After picking up the wine round at the Marlborough Express, she edited New Zealand’s longest running wine publication, WinePress Magazine for 11 years before also taking up an editorial role for New Zealand Winegrower magazine. She subsequently became the editor of Cuisine Wine Country and Wine NZ Magazine.
In recent years, Tessa’s wine writing journey led her to write Jane Hunter, Growing a Legacy (2008), provide research for Allan Scott’s biography, Marlborough Man (2016) and publish 50 years, 50 Stories, Marlborough the region that turned the wine world upside down, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Marlborough’s first modern vineyard plantings.
Murray Gibbons is the owner of Bulk Wine Distribution, a business that quickly grew to keep pace with the development of a fledgling Marlborough wine industry. Having now spent 40 years driving trucks and servicing the industry, no client is too big, or more importantly, too small, for Murray to service, which has been key for his clients.
Described as an ‘industry treasure’, he has quite possibly the biggest network in the Marlborough wine industry, with more insight than most into what is going on and where Marlborough’s wines are going, helping create a key link between wineries and their customers.
Each of these recipients will be profiled in more detail in coming issues of WinePress Magazine. They join a growing list of Marlborough wine treasures, including:
Gerry Greg, 2007
Ross Lawson (posthumously), 2009
Phil Rose, 2011
Ivan Sutherland, 2014
Jane Hunter, 2016
Dr Rengasamy Balasubramaniam (Bala), 2018
Dr John Forrest, 2019
Neal and Judy Ibbotson, 2020
Dominic Pecchenino, 2021
Mark Allen, 2022
Allan Scott, 2022
Twenty two trophies from the 2023 Marlborough Wine Show, sponsored by QuayConnect, were also presented at the celebration dinner.