Swiss born Jean-Luc has a family history of four generations of grape growing in Europe. Beginning in his home country he has also worked in vineyards in Europe and USA before immigrating to New Zealand. He has been a viticulturist for more than 34 years, and been with us since 1994. Jean Luc planted the Home Block vineyard which we harvest from today; it’s one of the oldest Pinot Gris blocks in New Zealand and uniquely is all on its own rootstock.
His grandfather was fond of saying ‘Better a good wind than a spray’ and it’s a philosophy that Jean-Luc lives by, ‘well apart from Powdery Mildew’ he smiles wryly. Over the years his interest in natural methods of pest and disease management and bio-diversity has grown. He has worked with Lincoln University to identify which New Zealand native plants can bring diversity and nature’s services to help with this in the vineyard. Sheep have also been a common sight in our vineyards as an integral part of the seasonal ground and canopy management, and we have to say the sheep and the vineyards always look in very good shape too.
A fond tramper, Jean-Luc is often sharing stunning photos of his journeys. While he is from foreign lands, he loves the Waipara region, with plenty of uncluttered space; at times it offers a harsh climate of frosty mornings, inescapable winds and heat. Yet for Jean-Luc, there is one resounding factor that keeps his feet planted firmly in these soils. “There is a love of ‘your place’, and for those who live here.” Jean Luc is a pillar of our Waipara Valley viticulture team, with many in his team having worked with him for over 10 years. His knowledge of the area is invaluable and his patience and quiet dedication is something we treasure.