March 8, 2023In News, Winery Spotlight, Travel

R&R For the Dhall & Nash Team

At Knappstein Winery - A real “doozy” of a wine paradise getaway!

JJ taking in the sights on Dhall & Nash's Clare Valley R&R Trip

“Superb wines, solidly structured and very age-worthy, and extraordinarily affordable.”

Huon Hooke on Knappstein wines, The Real Review

It’s the start of 2023 and the Dhall & Nash team is looking, well, let’s say… weary, a tad disoriented and maybe even… what? No Xmas party in 2022 to blow out the cerebral cobwebs?! Obviously, it’s time for some serious rest & relaxation.

Now R&R for the D&N team actually translates to Rieslings & Reds – and where better to find the pinnacle of these two varieties, than in Australia maaate! More precisely at Knappstein winery with a cheeky sneak over to Grosset in the Clare Valley, South-Eastern Australia.

Just to get everyone on flights seemed like a total mission. Mother Nature was throwing everything at us – but we managed a very fortunate window of escape between cyclones and monsoonal levels of rain, packing our bags on the Waitangi Day long weekend. Of course, we corralled some crazy fun clients with us making it feel like we’d all won the wine holiday jackpot!

Day 1 - Whoops...

Not totally plain sailing even before take-off, thanks to an ardent account manager (one with a French accent ah-hem, Francis!) decided to bring a rather exquisite wine with him to share with our Aussie mates. NZ Customs put a stop to that generous gesture, and I suspect their Friday night Customs staff drinks were taken up a few notches thanks to Francis’ oversight.

Weee! Dhall & Nash's R&R adventure's away!

Finally aboard, off we flew across the ditch to the wine capital of Oz, Adelaide, then on a bus to the Clare Valley, to the classy digs of the Country Club just 45 minutes north of the Barossa. This scenery is quintessential Australia – think gum trees, kangaroos, vineyards, dodgy characters (that’s not just our staff!), and country pubs in abundance. Known for its rolling hills, the Clare Valley climate is cooler than other wine-growing subregions in the vast South Australian winescape, though still with mild winters and warm dry summers. However, the elevation brings cooler summer nights, which we know makes for happy grapes with perky acidity particularly in Riesling, which the Clare has become famous for.

The view from our Clare Valley accomodation
The Knappstein Winery in Clare Valley
Clare Valley R&R Trip First Evening Eating

“Being able to stand in the vineyards, feel the sun and see how the grapes flourish, to speaking with the winery team in the cellars syphoning sips directly from the barrel to tasting the incredible line up of wines including some impressive back vintages, (who can deny the ageability of Clare Valley Riesling and Cabernet??) will always be invaluable experiences that I’m sure we will all carry with us!”

Melissa Csigay, Auckland Account Manager

Day 2 – The Aussies really know how to roll out the red carpet.

A full and exciting day was planned for us from learning first-hand about Knappstein’s fascinating history and terroir to a wine blending session to social Lawn Bowls that seemed to end up being quite competitive! A big shout out to D&N’s ray of sunshine, Sweetha (coolest C.O.O ever!) with a keen eye and a bit more than beginner’s luck knocking out the kitty at a crucial moment.

“And then there was the bowls afternoon where ‘winners are grinners’ so to speak! Just ask John, Ana, and head winemaker Michael, who made short work of the opposition. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for all who took part!”

John Filmer, Account Manager (and has played bowls a LOT!)

Hats off to the innovative founder and winemaker, Tim Knappstein, means that you won’t find a bog standard recipe or a secret winemaking formula at the Knappstein winery. Each divine drop of Knappstein wine is always created with strong historical reference and profound respect for the terroir but also thanks to genius winemakers like Michael Kane.

Clare Valley R&R Trip: Knappstein Winery

So, when it came to the “Let’s Get Blending” Session on Day 2, we saw and tasted just how creative the D&N teams with their clients were going to be as budding winemakers. No surprises – It got competitive again with some conflicting points of view and palate interpretation on the respective calibre of their unique blends:

“The best moment for me was to create our own blend. We tried very hard to find the right measured combination to create the perfect wine. We may not have won… ggrrrrr…. but our blend was the best ever, so it was not fully appreciated by winemakers Michelle and Michael. They may not have fully understood the richness, the fruit, the acidity, the 10 minute aging process in our mixing plastic container and then in our glass. After ‘This Methode Ancestrale’ (almost) carefully used and ending with a refined long finish, our judges, I am sure will realised their error and will call us to apologise and give our superb Blend a Gold Medal.”

Jean-Jacques (JJ) Bourvis, PR Extraordinaire

Wine Blending on our Clare Valley R&R Trip

“…as far as we were concerned, we formulated a magnificent blend which should have immediately hit the shelves and cellars throughout Australasia! – sadly we were only the runners up on the day, very sad indeed, lol!”

John Filmer, Account Manager 

Wine Blending on our Clare Valley R&R Trip
A Knappstein Family Winery Truck

[One of my highlights was] “playing as wine makers and having fun creating new and delicious wines”

Laura Demarco, Brazilian Queen of Logistics

After all the competitive zeal shown by the teams-on-tour meant that appetites were whet and rewarded with a stupendous spread of culinary and vinous deliciousness at the evening dinner that was held in the epic Kanppstein Enterprise Cellars. Impressive!

“the absolutely amazing “long table” dinner downstairs in the cellar at the winery, what an incredible menu prepared by an iconic Aussie chef, a night to behold with incredible food, amazing wines, and excellent company. Another “Five Star” event from the Knappstein crew! Bravo!”

John Filmer

“We grow wine, it’s not made.”

Michael Kane, Knappstein Winemaker

Day 3 – But wait there’s more!

For our last day on tour, it was out into the vineyards to see and “feel” the land, the extraordinary pieces of Clare Valley dirt that make these sites particularly unique.

Michael explained that from the very beginning, the winemaking focus at Knappstein has always remained to showcase the quality of fruit from the individual soils and climates of the Clare vineyards. For them, it’s all about respecting the individual growing sites, to create wines with identity and personality, shown through their expression of varietal and regional attributes.

Having some of the best vineyards in the region, Knappstein is dedicated to a ‘distinguished vineyards’ philosophy. With the full control of vineyard management and their long-term commitment to these sites, they have forged the company’s reputation as one of Australia’s leading premium wine brands.

“You’re the first mob I’ve had wander through the vineyard!”

Jeffrey Grosset, Legendary Winemaker/Proprietor

After absorbing all facets of the Knappstein terroir, we were lucky to be invited to walk on the illustrious soils of Grosset. Each year D&N receives a meagre allocation of their star wine – the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling which has super-cult status and an international following. It is undoubtedly one of the finest from the New World.

“The finest Riesling, I have ever tasted from Australia”

Robert Parker Jnr

For many years it has been a benchmark wine for the Clare Valley – a true yardstick from which to measure the region’s Riesling style. It is characterised by pristine purity, intensity of flavour, and phenomenal longevity. It’s a wine that could only come from this famous site and the hands of Jeffrey Grosset, unquestionably one of Australia’s greatest winemakers. How lucky were we!

And it kept getting better and better. Next stop – Knappstein’s “Wine of Provenance” Tasting. Auckland Account managers, Tori and Alienor both brilliantly described their tasting experiences:

“An incredible action packed weekend! From Clare Valley Riesling Gin cocktails at a cocktail party to a bbq amongst the vines whilst the sunset wished us goodbye. I most enjoyed tasting so many expressions of Knappstein Clare Valley Riesling and Cab Sauv in such a short time. We experienced single vineyard nuances, got to taste 3 decades of wines side by side and also stole sips straight from the barrel to the vintages not yet bottled.”

Tori Haysom, Auckland Account Manager

“My favourite memory of the trip was undoubtedly picnicking in the Mayor’s vineyard. Gorgeous scenery with a great climate, clear, pure, blue skies and night-time temperatures that drop dramatically encouraging Rieslings with great flavour and natural acidity. We were fortunate enough to get into the minutia of the Clare Rieslings expression from the 2002 through to their current vintage. The Clare valley is indeed a special wine region that is only matched by the kindness and hospitality we received. My trip can be summed up as the perfect combination of great people, great landscapes, and great wines’’

Alienor Moreau, Auckland Account Manager

The Aussie hospitality wasn’t going to stop – a brilliant BBQ al fresco in the middle of the vineyard made us all gasp at the majesty of the setting, the wines, and that fabulicious food.

“I’ll never stop thinking about that aged cheese they brought out with the wine after dinner in the vineyard. It may be a lifelong mission to reunite with it again.”

Aimee H, Graphic Designer

“Wow and how about the BBQ dinner in the vineyards, what an amazing experience for all – I would be bold in saying a “first” for us all, what an evening, thank you Knappstein crew! Also, a big shout out to our two intrepid bus drivers, who not only were part of the family for the weekend but saved many a weary body by giving us door to door drop offs after a long tiring day on one’s feet! Bravo Big John & mate!”

The always appreciative John Filmer

“The Knappstein team took great pleasure in making the most of our high hopes to see Aussie wildlife – between dramatic announcements that they’d spied koalas in the treetops and making us high-heeled gals run through gravel to peek at them, to taking the team along to known kangaroo spots – they didn’t leave us wanting for wine nor adventures.”

Aimee H, Graphic Designer

“The weekend on the Aussie land was just beautiful, we had the opportunity to enjoy the hit of Australia and see the dry but beautiful landscape and green scenario of the vineyards. Spotting the kangaroo was one of the highest points. The knowledge acquired on this trip is not measurable, but the bond with the team will reflect on the future of DN. The big joke of the trip was if Chris is on the bus/venue/airport we are fine. Anyone else could be missing but not Chris haha!” 

Laura Demarco


Chris Tan, still at large

Day 4 – and reeeeeally early...

It’s off to the airport with tummies still full, palates still pulsating, and brains a-buzzing with fantastical happy memories and profound gratitude for an unforgettable experience in the magical vinous world of Knappstein.

Summing it up with style and deep appreciation, both our Sales GM Brandon Nash and our Design guru Aimee have (almost) the last word:

“Having the Dhall & Nash squad on tour to experience the Clare Valley, together with some beloved customers was superb. From running through the old vineyards with the kangaroos, blending red wines, tasting historic aged Riesling and Cabernet, some friendly competition on the lawn bowl pitch, then taking in magnificent, sunny views across the sub regions, ending with a sensational dinner in the Mayors Vineyard. The Australian generosity and hospitality were on full display, and we sincerely thank the entire Knappstein team for this unforgettable experience”

Brandon Nash

A landscape shot of the Clare Valley

“There’s this quintessential vision of ‘Australia’ that deep down, I think we all like to envision – red dirt, kangaroos, dry brush, and eucalyptus trees lining long roads. Most of the time, when I’ve visited Aussie with this vision in mind, it’s been a surprise just how similar everything looks to home. Cities look like cities, after all, but in visiting Clare Valley to spend time at Knappstein we were given a special glimpse of that quintessential ‘Aussie’ I’ve apparently been chasing, with some lush green vines sprinkled in (complete with sunscreen, of course), fabulous company, warm hospitality, and great wine as the cherry on top of our trans-Tasman adventure. We’re lucky to have such a great country as neighbours, with such awesome producers!”

Aimee Hopwood

As expressed by renown wine critic Huon Hooke, in true Aussie lingo: “…the over-delivering and very approachably priced Knappstein Shiraz… ‘hmmm, that’s a beaut wine!’”

And from all of us across the ditch back in NZ – hugest thanks to team Knappstein and Jeffrey Grosset for a real BEAUT weekend!

Best Irrelevant Quote of the Knappstein trip has to go to the enigmatic Colin Hodgkinson, Dhall & Nash’s King of Deliveries:

“A Chinchilla has 80-100 hairs per follicle”

Colin Hodgkinson

Well, I never!