Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter grew up on a farm in rural Waikato and studied at Lincoln University (Canterbury, N.Z.) where he completed a Bachelor of Horticultural Science with First Class Honours.
Classes and an honours dissertation in his final year were taken from the post-graduate course in Viticulture and Oenology. The year prior was spent at Oregon State University where he was involved in their viticulture program and wine sensory evaluation panels. Previous vintage and winemaking experience includes vineyards and wineries in New Zealand (Giesen and Rippon), Australia (Saxonvale and Tarrawarra), California (Newton Vineyard), Oregon (Sokol Blosser) and Burgundy (Domaine de L’Arlot).
Blair started at Felton Road in 1996, planning and readying the winery for its inaugural vintage in 1997. Immediately from that debut vintage, Felton Road’s wines flew into international prominence with trophies and accolades including “Best New Winery” and “Pinot Noir of the Year”.
The winery enjoys a well established global reputation as one of New Zealand’s finest with its Pinot Noirs being recognised amongst the very best in the new world. Blair attributes the high quality of Felton Road’s wines to its distinct soils, the unique climate of Bannockburn, the north-facing vineyard aspects, and meticulous care of the vines using organic and biodynamic techniques.
His skill and wide experience as winemaker has brought a minimalist approach: making wines in the simplest, gentlest, most hands free way possible. The traditional techniques of Burgundy figure as a great influence, as does his early mentor John Kongsgaard.