The “People” in our People, Practise and Place wine philosophy.
The Kokako wine story is as much about the people as it is about the magic spot that is Ohiti Valley.
So let’s start with the big picture, the owner of Kokako Farms, Evan Davies started the process when he hired me and then allowed me to put my stamp on what we are doing. This small sentence actually means a lot, being enabled is so powerful in the process of creating something special. Followed very closely by support and Evan has bought his business knowledge, life experience, and fresh views to the Kokako table.
Kokako was planted and run externally for six to seven years, then Evan decided to be hands-on with the management of his rural business. I came on board the vintage 2007as part of that move.
We immediately started with a replanting program removing poor previous choices and catering to trend changes, changing growing structures, and targeting top-end quality, not just tonnes.
We increased Chardonnay plantings and clones, developing 50% more ground, and expanding into more gravel soils.
All of this was part of the ‘enabling’ process, confidence to push forward, crystal ball trend changes, and industry health.
So the ‘ME’ bit. I am Bruce Nimon, I studied horticulture at Massey Palmerston and had plans to grow apples, but all of that changed when apples tanked in the late 80’s so I jumped to nursery production and landscape design side of horticulture.
After overseas travel, I returned to NZ and a winter season of Skiing lead to me helping a friend in a liquor store, long story but I ended up managing said liquor store for a few years, this sparked the love of wine. I meet my wine heroes like Kate Radburnd, Peter Robertson, John Hancock, Alwyn Corban while buying wine for the store.
Back to school, I went, (EIT Hawkes Bay) & (Massey Uni) to study winemaking, this led to vintages with Pasks, Scared Hill, and Kemblefield, plus a Northern Hemisphere Oregon vintage with the legend Lynn Penner-Ash at Rex Hill.
Fast forward a few years and I started my own vineyard and winery Lucknow Estate with my best friend. Great times but dreadful timing. This was a bare field development, a vineyard planted, and a straw bale winery built, we exported to the USA and had national distribution in NZ.
So by the time, I joined Kokako I had 15 vintages in the cellars of some great wineries, and 7 years of growing grapes.
I have now been with Kokako for 15 vintages!
Biological farming is a passion for me, this put me on a path to meet another hero, Nicole Masters, she is worth the google, Amazing. But she is an Agroecologist.
This process has shaped how I do things here at Kokako, the soil is the asset from which all our goals are fulfilled. But that’s a whole other Chat.