The Winemakers…

Gordon Russell, Senior Winemaker

Gordon Russell has established himself as one of New Zealand's most recognised winemaking identities with his passionate approach to winemaking, and the enormous success he has achieved with his wines in tastings and competitions.

Born in New Plymouth, New Zealand, Gordon’s desire to travel took him to England and Europe for three years after university. He had always been interested in different flavours and trying new food so during his time abroad he naturally also developed an appreciation for fine wine.

In 1986 Gordon returned to New Zealand, just when the wine styles for which New Zealand has become highly regarded were beginning to emerge. Gordon was appointed as Esk Valley winemaker in 1993, after working for Villa Maria in Auckland as a cellar hand from 1987 and then as assistant winemaker to Grant Edmonds at Esk Valley from 1990.

Gordon strives to make wines that tell the story of the vineyards from which they came. Experience has taught him that with attention to detail in vineyard, the winemaking process becomes simple and a hands off affair. Esk Valley’s aim is to produce a natural style of wine utilising wild yeast and long term lees ageing. These are modern styles of wine made in a hand crafted manner.

Andrew Lebioda, Assistant Winemaker

Andrew was born and raised in the vast prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada, about as far from any vineyards as possible. However, known as the Breadbasket of the World, agriculture abounds which instilled an innate appreciation for growing and cultivating crops from a young age.

After working in the hospitality industry the desire to return to produce and farming led him to working on farmstays across Southern France. Surrounded by vineyards and stunning scenery ignited a curiosity for viticulture and winemaking, which quickly evolved into a desire to learn as much about the art and science of winemaking as possible. Since his first harvest in France, Andrew has worked numerous vintages in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. He also completed his Certificate in Winemaking via distance learning from the University of California, Davis. Andrew worked at Villa Maria Auckland winery as a Cellar hand for 18 months before moving to Hawkes Bay to take up the position of Assistant winemaker at Esk Valley Estate.

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