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OTAGO WINE PEOPLE - MATT CONNELL - WINE MAKER
Matt Connell - winemaker, Akarua, - completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology in 2001. Following University, Matt spent six months at Wynn's Coonawarra Estate in South Australia. He developed his passion for pinot noir and cool climate winemaking whilst working in Oregon at respected American pinot noir producer Elk Cove wines.
After three years as Assistant Winemaker at Elk Cove - including working a vintage for Peregrine Wines in Central Otago in 2003 under Michelle Richardson - Matt returned to Central Otago. He took up the position of Winemaker at Olssen's of Bannockburn in January 2005, where he won numerous awards including 2007 Winestate Australasian Pinot Noir of the Year and the Mike Wolter Trophy and Champion Wine of Show at the 2008 Bragato wine awards.
This record of achievement at New Zealand wine shows was highlighted again at the 2009 Royal Easter Show wine awards where five out of the eleven gold medals awarded to New Zealand pinot noir went to wines that Matt produced in 2007. This result saw all wine companies that Matt represented in 2007 being awarded a gold medal for pinot noir at one show.
Matt joined Akarua in November 2008 as the new Winemaker and Site Manager. At the time Matt said; "I can't wait to get my hands on the amazing fruit that the Akarua vineyard site produces. I aim to add my mark to the style of Akarua wine and look forward to being part of the team that takes Akarua to the forefront of New Zealand pinot noir production."
Matt is a complete perfectionist and has exacting standards for winemaking practices and winery hygiene. He aims to make rounded but concentrated, soft but still structured styles of pinot noir that show balance and finesse, rather than largesse.
When Matt is not making wines, he is found chasing trout, or spending time with his American wife Beth and their two young children, Emma and Noah.