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Inner Sanctum

Introducing Terra Sancta's Winemaker Andrew Keenleyside

Meet our Winemaker

Andrew Keenleyside

Joining the team from the 2022 vintage, Andrew brings his wealth of knowledge and over 20 years experience to Terra Sancta.

Nominated for "New Zealand Winemaker of the Year" by Gourmet Traveller Wine in 2020, Terra Sancta’s Winemaker Andrew Keenleyside brings a wealth of knowledge and appreciation of place to his role. Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Andrew spent his formative years growing up surrounded by kiwifruit and dairy farms, before gaining an Applied Science degree at Massey University. Returning to his farming roots, the early part of his career was spent working as a vineyard manager giving him both hands-on vineyard experience and a broad perspective on the significance of vineyard balance and health on wine quality. Prior to Terra Sancta, Andrew was the Head Winemaker at well known Central Otago producer, Akarua. With over 20 years of wine experience extending well beyond Bannockburn and Central Otago, to Mosel, Napa Valley and Oregon, Andrew is committed to continuing the upward trajectory of Terra Sancta’s wine quality, ensuring our wines are clear expressions of our unique Bannockburn vineyard sites.

Q: Let’s start from the beginning, where are you from?

A. Bay of Plenty - Kiwifruit country.

Q: Where did your wine journey start and what was your first role in the wine industry?

A. I started as a vineyard manager in the Waikato - very challenging and very educational. Never try to grow grapes in dairy farming country!

Q: What drew you to get into winemaking?

A. When I was working as a vineyard manager, I was also working nights in the winery and that's where I decided I wanted to be crafting the wines, not just growing the grapes.

Q: What’s your background in the wine industry?

A. In 2003 I went to Napa Valley for an internship and completed my first harvest. I then came back to New Zealand for my first Central Otago vintage. Over the next few years I worked in several wineries around Central Otago gaining experience. While I based myself in Central Otago, I alternated vintages in Central Otago with two German and two Oregon harvests.

Q: What’s your greatest achievement in the wine industry?

A. That would have to be a tie between winning the triple trophy at the Sydney International Wine Show and being nominated for Gourmet Traveller Wine's "New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2020".

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to future winemakers you wish someone had given you?

A. Work in as many wineries as you can and ask lots of questions.

Q: What wine has left a lasting impression on you?

A. Willakenzie Alliette. An Oregon Pinot made from a winery with a French owner and a French winemaker. They had nine distinct terroir based wines from a 100 acre site. The Alliette was a standout and also from the oldest vines.

Q: What drew you to Terra Sancta?

A. Age….not Mark and Sarah's….or mine! Vine age, history and pedigree of the Terra Sancta sites.

Q: What is your favourite Terra Sancta wine?

A. TBC - Shingle Beach today, could be Jackson's Block or First Vines Rosé tomorrow!

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in winemaking?

A. Getting 580 tonne through a winery built to max out at 400 tonne and making ice style wine from frozen grapes without breaking the press.

Q: Where is your favourite place to enjoy a bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir?

A. Anywhere with Sara (my wife)

Q: Who is your favourite person to share a bottle of wine with?

A. My wife Sara

Q: What Terra Sancta wine are you most excited to make?

A. Oh this is a hard question! I'm excited to make them all as they will all have their own challenges, but if I had to pick one it would be Shingle Beach.

Q: What Terra Sancta block do you think has the most potential?

A. Slapjack Block for the 2022 harvest. It's looking outstanding.

Q: What's your favourite harvest you've worked outside of New Zealand and why?

A. I would probably have to say Mosel. I was working with a guy I had met during a harvest in New Zealand. It was his first vintage in charge at his family vineyard. They made so many wines from Riesling grapes.

Q: If you could try one wine before you die what would it be?

A. The wine I make in 50 years time!

Q: What traits make a good winemaker?

A. Patience!

Q: What traits make a good wine drinker?

A. Patience! Stamina, persistence and passion.

Q: If you weren't making wine what would your dream job be?

A. A wine and beer critic, if I'm not making the wine I need to be drinking it!

Q: What's special about Bannockburn?

A. Where do I start; the people, the place, the environment, the Pinot. We're surrounded on three sides by mountains and it's a sun trap. There are such nice tannin developments and spices in the wine that come from the soil here.

Q: What block are you particularly excited to work with and why?

A. Shingle beach because of the low vines and the unique soils.

Finally, just a few quick fire questions to get to know what truly lies at the heart of the man

Q: What's your favourite sandwich?

A. Ham, a classic and you just can't go wrong.

Q: When you're not drinking wine what's your drink of choice?

A. Beer, at the moment I'm enjoying Monteith's Black

Q: When you're not making wine what are you doing?

A. Mountain biking

Q: What's your favourite cake?

A. Banana cake

Q: What's your favourite holiday destination?

A. Anywhere in the Pacific Islands

Q: Dogs or cats?

A. Dogs

Q: Who's your greatest hero?

A. My Dad

Q: Who's your favourite superhero?

A. Spiderman

Q:Who is your favourite boy band?

A. Queen