Business Rural Summer 2021

| 3 RURAL PEOPLE » The Coterie Organic wine hub centre for innovation Sue Russell B en Glover and Rhyan Wardman established The Coterie, in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, four years ago, having seized the opportunity to buy the Seresin Winery, on Bedford Road, Ren- wick overlooking the Wairau Valley. The two had known each other since meeting in the 90’s at Lincoln University to start the Oenol- ogy and Viticulture Degree. Each then embarked on different wine related pathways before coming together again to establish The Coterie, an Organic Contract Winemaking Facility. Ironically for Rhyan, in 1996 as assistant winemaker he oversaw the building of the Seresin Estate’s new winery. Now 21 years later he’s back on familiar soil working with Ben developing the vision of The Coterie. The two wanted to add real value by working together to establish a hub for premium small-batch organic wine-makers to have a facility they could call home, and make their wine unhindered. “We had observed a real shift over time in the Marlborough landscape, away from smaller owner- operated, bespoke family wine businesses to larger wine businesses. We wanted to do something to preserve and celebrate the diversity from the region by providing small, single-batch organic vineyard owners with a place to process their vintages,” says Ben. While on the one level The Coterie operates as a contract winemaking facility, the vision and drive behind it goes much deeper than this activity alone. “We were becoming concerned about the diver- sity of Brand Marlborough and wanted to generate a space for collaborative discussion for those small special and unique wine-makers in this region,” Ben explains. Above all The Coterie is a group of like-minded people, wanting to create some ‘positive disruption’ to stimulate the marketplace and to create some conversation. “A bit like a bell-curve, we want to promote those craft wine-makers who sit on the outer extremes of the curve. Showing off Marlborough’s other varie- ties, pockets of unique land and the personalities.” Taking the competitive nature out of wine- making has brought gains, where through shared interests and an open platform to engage creative thinking, benefits come to the whole sector. “We have a big kitchen table where those inter- ested in advancing their wine-making and sharing their insights can do so. You have to be inquisitive, enthusiastic and ultimately solutions-oriented for the greater good” Sitting behind this pioneering enterprise are founding principles best summarised as celebrating collaboration, championing personality, encourag- ing constant innovation, sharing ideas in an open engaging way and bettering the architecture of Wine Marlborough. Working with Ben and Rhyan is a small team of wine-makers who, Ben says, are absolutely smashing it out of the park, in terms of creating an inviting space of collective ownership and a culture of positive innovation. “Pierre Vienning, Tom Hindmarsh and Monty Petrie are making this place hum. They are on the floor and the winemaking faces of The Coterie,” says Ben. For Rhyan and Ben this is also part of the plan, enabling these young winemakers to grow into the business, making it their own – no glass ceilings. Making premium wine with plenty of opportunities to grow their skill-base and contribute. And while Ben learnt the techniques of wine- making at Lincoln University he says it’s the artistry of wine growing and the community around it that he’s beginning to understand and really value. “There is a drive and capacity to grow The Coterie footprint, but not for growth’s sake. There is more thought to what our team can honestly be comfortable achieving with underlying pillars around the three-legged stool, often seen in the corner of the farmhouse kitchen. It is these legs that form the strength through which The Coterie’s vision will evolve; Turangawewae – our sense of place; Kaitiakitanga – custodianship, and Whanaun- gatanga – kinship and community.” SPECIALIST MAINTENANCE ENGINEERING • Pump Maintenance • Winery Equipment Maintenance • Bottling Lines • Food Processing Equipment • Receival Equipment & Wine Press Maintenance • General Engineering • Industrial Equipment Breakdown Repair AVAILABLE Ph Jarrod 027 424 7527 24/7 Ben Glover (left) and Rhyan Warman. The pair worked together to establish The Coterie in Renwick (below), a hub for premium small-batch organic wine-makers. For all your spreading requirements Vineyard or Pasture Proudly supporting Coterie Du Vin Ltd