When many people who try their first sip of wine tend to scrunch their noses, Duncan Shouler was immediately intrigued by the winemaking process. These first memories influenced Shouler to find an interest in the process and pursue a winemaking career, which began with studying for a Master's in Wine Science.
Shouler began to travel around, tasting as much wine as he possibly could.
"I have many fond memories of that period in my life, and I think that's what really turned the spark into a full-on fire," Shouler said enthusiastically.
This fire has led Shouler to work alongside a collection of talented winemakers and viticulturists, assisting him on his journey to get where he is today.
Working at Giesen encourages Shouler to push boundaries and embrace innovation while respecting traditional wine art.
This results in having one side of the winery operating out of technology and remodelling while the other continues with years of tradition.
These approaches allow the Giesen team to remain consumer-focused and provide alternative spaces of connection between the producers and those that indulge.
Some products include a range of zero-alcohol wines, gin, and classics like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc fermented in stainless steel.
The philosophy Shouler holds is to prioritise efficiency throughout the winemaking process, freeing up time to focus on alternative matters, such as the Clayvin Chardonnay.
Giesen's competitive edge is its zero-alcohol range of wines, which is seen to challenge people's perceptions of what winemaking and drinking are.
Having already been a massive success for the company, Shouler believes this will be a key differentiating factor moving forward, particularly with more consumers monitoring their alcohol intake but not shying away from a good day out.
Alongside the alcohol-free range is the Clayvin range. The Clayvin Range is a well-liked variety of wines they have because of its unique characteristics. Varieties from Clayvin include a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Syrah and carry floral characteristics.
Another innovative strategy that Shouler and the team at Giesen have introduced is the spinning cone column. This established Giesen as the only New Zealand winery with this technology, allowing them to produce the zero alcohol range.
In 2022, the team brought in decanter technology. Decanters can replace presses and have twice the capacity to clarify juice for fermentation, further improving operational efficiency while maintaining clean and delicious Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
When considering the various impacting factors of winemaking, Shouler believes that the quality of the fruit is at the forefront. Tasting and ensuring the fruit is picked at the right balance is necessary to ensure consistent, enjoyable flavour palates.
Even though the industry is moving fast, Shouler and the team at Giesen intend to continue innovating and developing their products and systems.
"The future will certainly be a combination of innovation and tradition. I think we will see the low and no alcohol category gain importance and see the rise of innovative wine styles that connect with younger consumers. Of course, at the same time, classic traditional style that expresses a great sense of place and provenance will always be important."