Written by Victoria Clark
June Hamilton is co-owner and founder of the 21-year-old Kaimira Wines business, but you’re unlikely to ever find her among the grapevines, let alone in the winery.
“The vineyard is not my area, though it’s very beautiful through the seasons and I do like looking at it through the office window,” she laughs. “I would be the world’s worst pruner, and the slowest, too.”
Her passion and career ‘calling,’ she says, is marketing Kaimira’s certified organic varietals and introducing them to ‘unexpected’ overseas markets.
“We began the three-year process of going organic in 2010. What I find most rewarding is the opportunities that have come from being certified organic; the inquiries from distributors who want to sell our organic wine. More and more people all over the world are seeking organic foods and wine, and they love that we’re a niche, family-owned, certified organic wine-producer.”
Kaimira Wines produces 13 different varietals, many of which are sold in eight countries, including some “quite exotic and unexpected places,” says June, such as Poland and the Philippines.
“Working with these people and advising them, and actually getting our wines away to places of a whole different culture is challenging and interesting. I often find I’m using Google Translate.”
June also enjoys the marketing involved at the vineyard’s cellar door. And, the next time you’re offered a wine-tasting in a supermarket in Nelson or Motueka, your grocery-store product-representative could well be June. Shoppers are noticeably appreciative, she says, to learn they’re talking with the vineyard’s owner, rather than a product representative.
Though June prefers working with buyers and distributors, it’s quickly evident when she talks about Kaimira’s wines, she has a detailed and sound knowledge about viticulture and wine-making. She studied part-time over two years, completing papers in viticulture, the technology involved in the wine-industry, laboratory work, and wine marketing.
“The final paper was all about making fortified wine – something I thought I would never want to do here. I didn’t do the assignment, so I can’t claim to have graduated with a certificate!”