Te Kairanga, New Zealand
John Kavanagh was raised in Waiuku, a small farming town south of Auckland where his maternal great grandparents settled after arriving from Scotland 130 years ago. "It was an idyllic rural upbringing with a lot of independence and freedom."
John didn’t start out pursuing winemaking; he attended Auckland University and completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in History and Political Science. While based in the UK for a couple of years, he had the opportunity to begin learning about the world of fine wine. He visited Burgundy, Champagne, and the Mosel and Rheingau regions before returning home to earn his Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University. After his studies, he moved to Martinborough to follow his love of Pinot Noir. "Martinborough was not historically a place to grow grapes like Burgundy or a nice place to live like Nelson; it is a place settled specifically to make great wine. It is a genuine village with a strong emphasis on wine and food."
"I started with vintage at Palliser Estate, where I progressed to be Assistant Winemaker. After four years there, I became the first winemaker at Alana Estate, an ambitious start-up vineyard. After four years at Alana, I had the opportunity to take over winemaking at the iconic Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson from the owner, Tim Finn."
In 2012, John became the Chief Winemaker at Te Kairanga and returned home to Martinborough. There, he is focused on creating a culture to make great wine. "I love wine and, more importantly, winemaking. I love the many aspects of being a winemaker, but most important to me is the creativity of a unique expression. What makes a wine great is life, vitality, completeness and a sense of place."
John currently lives in Martinborough with his wife, two children, a dog and a cat. His other passions include cooking, travel, music, humor and the natural environment.