When Chef Meets Winemaker

When our winemaker Jamie visited one of the restaurants of celebrity chef Mark McEwan in Toronto, Canada, the pair got talking about their palates, passions and methods of creation. Growing up on a farm overlooking a valley of Marlborough grapevines, Jamie has always had winemaking in his blood. He told Mark about his craft and his home in New Zealand, a land rich in raw resources and natural wonders. Striking a chord with the Canadian chef, Jamie invited him to Marlborough to find out more about the Stoneleigh story and discover the region’s pioneering artisan creators.

As a chef who has always been inspired by nature, this was an offer Mark couldn’t resist. Since his early years as Canada’s youngest ever executive chef, Mark has been exercising his creativity, energy and talent for food in innovative ways. As the brains behind a number of influential Toronto restaurants including North 44, Bymark Restaurant and the 5-star One at The Hazelton Hotel, Mark was never one to rest on his laurels. With a best-selling cookbook, a head judge stint on ‘Top Chef Canada’, his own television show, a gourmet grocery store and a cookware line under his belt, Mark still strives for originality and inventiveness in everything he does. But that passion is always fuelled by the same fire; a love of food that’s made from the finest produce, sourced from those unique places on earth where nature creates something truly special.

Ten months later and it is here, in our vineyard, that Mark’s New Zealand journey begins. Situated in the heart of the Wairau Valley, the Stoneleigh vineyard is home to a unique natural environment. Growing from what was once the riverbed of the ancient Wairau River, our vines are nourished by a rich, stony soil. This soil contains flat round rocks called sunstones; and it is these sunstones that give us our Wonder of Nature. Absorbing the warm Marlborough sunshine through the day and radiating the heat back into the vines as the cool night falls, the sunstones allow our grapes to ripen, intensifying their rich flavour and resulting in the unmistakable taste of Stoneleigh.

Chef Mark McEwann Cooking in Marlborough
Chef Mark McEwann Discovers Neudorf Mushrooms
Chef Mark McEwann Cooks Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms
Chef Mark McEwann Discovers Marlborough

This is just the first stop on Mark’s tour of the Marlborough region, where he will discover the stories of other food lovers who are creating wonderful things from the natural resources gifted to them by their surroundings. Nature has given Stoneleigh the gift of sunstones. It is this gift that has inspired our wines. And here in New Zealand, we’re lucky enough to have these gifts in abundance – moments where nature’s ingenuity and creativity lead to something truly amazing. These are our Wonders of Nature.