World of Wine By Cameron Douglas.
Interview with Ben Byrne, The Landing, Northland

What inspired you to become a winemaker?
Straight out of Bay of Islands College, wine seemed like a ticket to
travel and go surfing. I went to Lincoln for three years and then straight
to Margaret River. Over time the wave addiction made way for a wine
obsession, but I still try and get out on the water either on a boat or a
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why should we add it to
our cellars?
At the moment I’m really happy with the 2019 Landing Syrah. It’s got
a cool aromatic profile and good core of flavour without the alcohol
getting carried away. I think it shows a strong vineyard character.
The vintage was dry but not super warm which gives the wine nice
definition and keeps it linear. If you haven’t tried Northland Syrah yet I
reckon this is a pretty good example, especially of what we grow on the
coastal clay sites. These wines can evolve nicely so the 2019 should keep
getting better for a few years.
Is there any new trend or innovation in wine that’s excited you or that
you’re involved in?
I find the move towards biological viticulture fascinating. There are
so many interactions we don’t yet fully understand. Growing out
here on the coast in the Bay of Islands there is no playbook, so we are
constantly observing and adapting. The global trend towards more
balanced and characterful wines is exciting too. It seems like there is so
much more interesting wine to drink out there.
How would you like to see New Zealand’s wine industry evolve in the
longer term?
For the wine industry to thrive we need strength in all size categories.
There are political levers that can tilt the playing field, so there needs
to be a lot of thought given to that. As the industry matures I’d like to
think we’ll see more diversity and alongside that increased innovation.
There is so much potential across the whole country in both our
people and our land. Looking backwards at the industry in Aotearoa
and the rate of change, we can probably expect that to continue if
not accelerate. Staying connected to consumers across the globe and
protecting brand New Zealand with a strong commitment to core
values like sustainability and authenticity is important.
At the end of a busy day making wine or tasting tank and barrel samples,
what beverage do you turn to?
I straight away look for a beer, ideally a home brew but in our house,
demand tends to outstrip supply, so usually it’s a can from the fridge.