Julianne Brogden

Julianne Brogden

Collaboration Wines (Winemaker & Owner)

“A science background is hugely important as is learning to pick yourself up.”

Highly talented, Julianne Brogden, the owner and winemaker of Collaboration Wines, is a warm, generous person who cares deeply about her craft. She grew up in Hawke’s Bay in a New Zealand family that was supportive of her interests in science, horticulture and the arts, In 1997, at the age of 17, Julianne enrolled in a Bachelor of Wine Science, Winemaking and Viticulture program at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), offered in conjunction with Charles Sturt University. It was at this point that Julianne was introduced to Pask winery and Kate Radburnd, its winemaker. She was awarded a scholarship funded by Pask that included the opportunity to work a vintage. The next year she was invited to work at Pask‘s cellar door.

After completing her degree in 1999, Julianne worked a vintage at Vidal Estate doing her first cellar work. In recalling this experience, she noted that she “. . . hated being a ‘girl’ in the cellar” and decided to “suck it up and toughen up.” Athletic when growing up, she started lifting weights and ignoring non-supportive comments. A young man with whom she worked at Vidal encouraged her to get further experience in California. He put her in contact with a Kiwi who was the assistant winemaker at Havens Wine Cellars in Napa, and off she went to work a vintage there, mostly in the cellar, and loved it: “It was a peak experience.”

And thus began her many years working in California. With her J-1 visa in hand, she worked another harvest with Havens and then accepted an enologist position at Clos Pegase in Calistoga, a position she held for three and a half years. “I did everything! I was the only woman on the team, and it worked great.” She moved on to an assistant winemaking position at Lewis Cellars, a small family winery in Napa, and again totally immersed herself in that experience.

After nearly seven years away, it was time to return to come home to Hawke’s Bay, and to establish her own brand, which she called Collaboration Wines. While developing the Collaboration Wines portfolio, which released its first wine in 2010, Julianne also worked as a winemaker for Pask, the Hawke’s Bay winery she knew from her university days.

Words of advice. “Essential are travel in other wine regions, a science background, work in the cellar and the laboratory, going to school, and learning all you can wherever you are.”

The Wines. Collaboration Wines does not have a cellar door, so Julianne graciously invited us to meet late afternoon at her home in Hastings. It turned out to be a particularly momentous day, as Julianne had recently resigned from her full-time winemaking position to focus solely on Collaboration Wines—the day we visited was her last day in that position.

Julianne literally works “in collaboration” with growers: the grapes for her wines come from select Hawke’s Bay vineyard sites that she believes reflect the unique terroir of its various wine regions. She has been using the winemaking equipment at Pask, but she soon will be sharing the Bay View facility with Kate Radburnd.

Collaboration Wines offered its first wine, Argent Cabernet Sauvignon, in 2010. Another varietal or blend have been added each year: in 2011, Aurulent Chardonnay, in 2012, Impression Red, a Bordeaux blend, and in 2013, Ceresia Merlot/Cabernet Franc. The current production is 1500 cases. Julianne also crafts Poet Pinot Gris from fruit she sources from the vineyards of Lime Rock Wines and markets under the Bohemian label. We tasted the 2017 Poet Pinot Gris, and it was excellent, crisp, fruity, and aromatic.

Julianne’s wines consistently receive excellent reviews: 4 or 5 stars (out of 5) in the annual Buyers Guide to New Zealand Wine, and ratings in the 90s by the Wine Advocate. Julianne shared several of her wines with us, and we are in total agreement with the wine critics! Her 2013 Argent Cabernet Sauvignon, our favorite, being red-wine lovers, was just wonderful, complex yet elegant.

Her partner, Richard Painter, the winemaker for Te Awa, a small winery now under the umbrella of the Villa Maria family of wineries, joined us late in the conversation and shared some of his perspectives about the wine industry as well. To the extent that these two young winemakers represent the present and future of the wine industry in Hawke’s Bay, the industry is in talented hands!