Heinrich Storm, winemaker at the pioneering Goldie Estate on Waiheke Island, first developed his interest in wine when studying hospitality management at AUT in the mid 2000s. Lucky for him, one of his lecturers was Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. “It was his passion for wine which really struck a chord to make me want to pursue a career in the wine industry,” Storm told Restaurant and Café.
He is, first and foremost, a wine fan. “You can always tempt me with champagne, or a well-balanced Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet – I like to try everything as it keeps me in touch with styles and trends.” He has a number of wines and wineries on his bucket list, but “unfortunately I have to wait for my Kiwisaver account to grow a bit!” he joked.
For Storm, terrior and people are key. “The more in tune you are with your vineyard, the better your understanding on how to produce the best wines from it. I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of the vineyard,” he said, although noted the equal significance of the team as part of the winemaking process. “You need to have passionate, likeminded individuals who love the wine industry as part of your team.”
Unfortunately the 2017 harvest hasn’t been the easiest. Record rainfalls during harvest ruined the vintage for large parts of the country, including Waiheke, so this year is proving to be particularly difficult. This is also coming off the back of three years of record drought between 2013 and 2015, with 2013 and 2014 being Storm’s most successful seasons yet. Storm acknowledged that while there is no immediately evident impact of global warming on the winery, the seasons are becoming increasingly erratic. “If this continues we’ll have to future plan our vineyard to ensure we’ve got the right varietals planted to cope with more extreme climatic conditions,” he said.
Kim and Jeanette Goldwater bought the site in the early 70s, mainly south-facing with a few northern slopes in between on heavy clay soils. There are currently seven planted hectares with six varieties, but are looking at increasing plantings in the coming years. Goldie currently grows Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. “We also source some grapes from Marlborough to supplement our range, which are less suited to Waiheke’s climate,” said Storm. “This includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.”
The site has been owned by the University of Auckland since 2011 and is currently their largest market, followed by Cellar Door visitors and special events. With such a constant demand, Goldie puts emphasis on sustainability. The winery is part of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, with projects in the pipeline involving composting and encouraging bio-diversity within the vineyard.
When he’s not making wine, he can be found in the kitchen with his wife cooking up a storm (his words) or enjoying the outdoors. He keeps an eye on the craft beer and dairy industries, as he sees them as evolving and innovative. Storm has this advice for aspiring winemakers: “Clean, clean, clean. Taste, taste, taste. Have a bit of fun on the way, don’t take it too seriously and take time to reflect on the beauty of it all from time to time.”
“The wine industry is a fantastic industry to be part of,” he added. “It is full of unique people. It’s an industry that allows you to travel to some pretty incredible parts of the world. It is my dream job; I don’t think I would want to do anything else… Maybe fishing.”