Many wine professionals claim to have winemaking in their blood.
For Petter we think that might just be true.
HE’S BEEN DESCRIBED AS A VETERAN IN THE INDUSTRY BY SOME AND FOR VERY GOOD REASON.
Petter started working in the vineyard at 15. Not just your run-of-the-mill, commercial vineyard, a “hobby” vineyard owned by family friends who planted a few rows of each variety. Grape growing in Canterbury was very experimental at the time, in fact, very few people were doing it. Not long before, Lincoln University conducted research on the suitability of Canterbury as a grape-growing region and a few intrepid growers took up the challenge.
This experimental approach to Canterbury viticulture planted the seed so to speak and before long Petter was growing vines from cuttings at his home. He also built his own wine press and wine cellar under the house. Petter didn’t strike immediate success however, the first few batches of wine made in these early days he describes as less than successful.
PETTER HAS WORKED IN THE WINE INDUSTRY HIS ENTIRE CAREER. FOR HIM IT IS THE CHALLENGES AND THE VARIETY, IN EQUAL MEASURES, THAT MAKE THIS INDUSTRY SO APPEALING.
For him, it is the challenges and the variety, in equal measures, that make this industry so appealing. Petter often highlights that winemaking is an agricultural industry where quite often factors beyond human control affect the raw materials. Very little remains consistent and you must be able to adapt, each day and each vintage you are faced with different conditions and varying raw materials. This makes the wine and the work very interesting. But also challenging.
Petter is unashamedly a foodie who loves to cook for family and friends. Outside of winemaking, he likes to stay fit, running or bike riding around Hagley Park in Christchurch or visiting new places. Along with his wife, they have also successfully raised a daughter and numerous cats.
Petter is a humble man who often plays down his role in the development of the Canterbury wine industry. In any industry, it is rare to find such a long-held passion for what you do. And his favourite wine? That would be like asking a parent who their favourite child is.
IN 1981 PETTER WORKED HIS FIRST HARVEST IN THE VINEYARD FOR COLLARDS AND THEN MONTANA IN THEIR BOTTLING PLANT.
Winemaking was not a well-trodden career path in New Zealand and study options were limited for wannabe winemakers. The only option was to study overseas and in 1982 Petter traveled to South Australia to attend Roseworthy Agriculture College along with four other New Zealand students.
This was the start of an illustrious career that has seen Petter complete harvests at Chateau Remy in Australia, a small family winery in Barden, Germany, Söhnlein a major German sparkling wine producer, and wineries in Nelson and Auckland. Petter’s affiliation with pioneering winemakers continued when he returned to Christchurch in 1991 to work at St Helena, one of the first wineries in Canterbury and Petter’s first introduction to New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Around this time a group of Canterbury winemakers, including Petter, took over the running of the Pinot Noir workshop. This industry workshop was a knowledge-sharing forum for wine growers and producers and was influential in the development of New Zealand Pinot Noir. This led to Petter’s introduction to Dayne Sherwood and in 2003 Petter joined Sherwood Estate.