Our Directors are ‘Hands On’ — Exactly How Hadyn Ellis Likes it

Our working directors love being involved in every aspect of our small family-owned business. But our ‘hands on’ approach is especially true in the warehouse where director Hadyn Ellis rules. 

Hadyn’s journey at Kahurangi came from small beginnings. He never dreamed when he started a part-time, temporary job doing a bit of bottling that he would still be here 14 years later – let alone as a director.

In the old days, the bottling and labelling was done in a corner of the winery and Hadyn had just one pallet a day to deal with. These days we label up to four pallets a day and Hadyn is kept very busy with the distribution side of the business. 

The move to the big warehouse ten years ago means that Hadyn now has plenty of room to move — in fact you could say he’s spoilt for space! But having all that extra room does come with consequences. 

Haydn jokes that he’s the only person in the company who gets to work in a fridge. The big shed gets very cold in the winter and we barely need the walk-in fridges for storing our range of kombucha and beer. Of course the opposite is true in the summer. 

One of Hadyn’s most important jobs is to oversee our labelling operation. All our wines come to us as cleanskins, so we need to make sure they’re correctly labelled before they go out to customers. 

Most bottles have won medals or awards of some sort and those little round stickers all need to be put on by hand. Although it’s a bit of a fiddly job, there’s something quite satisfying about having a human add the final touches, instead of a machine.

These days Hadyn has the distribution service down to a fine art. He takes real pride in getting orders out to clients super efficiently. Hadyn always says if one of our nine busy reps can get an order to him he’ll do his utmost to get it out of the warehouse on the same day. Hadyn reckons he can count the number of times he’s fallen short of this goal on the fingers of one hand .

There’s a real satisfaction in walking around our warehouse and seeing all the boxes of wine on their pallets. We have a fantastic range of wine from all over the world, but it’s particularly rewarding to see all the stacks of Nelson wine, just waiting to go out to happy customers. Standing in our warehouse gives a real sense of the important role we play in our small local industry.

Hadyn’s favourite wine is Pinot Noir,  Kahurangi of course — especially if it’s a bottle of Mt Arthur Reserve. He reckons this Nelson wine is every bit as good as an Otago Pinot — though he might be just a touch biased…

Hadyn loves drinking his Pinot Noir at home in front of his huge outdoor fireplace. If you asked him to pick a favourite time, that would be around eleven in the evening on a warm summer’s night, under the stars. 

According to Hadyn, the best food to enjoy with Pinot Noir is fillet steak — and that’s a great tip. Fillet steak is low fat with a rich texture, so it’s best matched with a bright, acidic red with low to moderate tannin. Our Pinot Noir fits the bill perfectly. 

Hadyn reckons the most delicious steak comes from a beast raised on their own property, cooked on the barbecue by himself of course. You don’t get much more hands-on than that!

After living opposite our winery in Moutere for 40 years, Hadyn counts himself a local. ‘Well, almost,’ he laughs. He jumped at the chance to become a shareholder in Kahurangi and loves working in a locally owned and operated business, especially one with such a close connection to the area where he lives. ‘It’s great to feel as if you’re part of the local scenery,’ says Hadyn.

As a wine region, Moutere has a rich and fascinating history in New Zealand — Kahurangi’s Riesling vines are the oldest commercially grown Riesling vines in the South Island. Living in the middle of all those vineyards means that Hadyn is always up to date on what’s happening with the grapes. 

You might have noticed that picking got underway early in Nelson this year, but our growers have been faced with some really tricky calls, thanks to yet another bout of heavy rain. 

Rain at harvest time is disastrous because it leads to split fruit. Ideally, the fruit should be picked when it reaches the perfect sugar and acid levels. When there’s significant rain on the horizon, the grower must decide whether to risk leaving slightly immature fruit on the vine in the hope it will survive, or just get it picked. 

If growers do make the difficult decision of picking early to get ahead of the weather, they are not always guaranteed that pickers will be available. Getting hold of enough labour has been an additional pressure once again this year, with continued shortages thanks to Covid restrictions. Thank goodness so many Nelson locals have pitched in to help out.

After a smaller crop last season, Hadyn’s warehouse is looking decidedly emptier than usual. Like our winemakers, he’s hoping for much better volumes this year so there will be lots of fantastic local wines to send out to our customers. 

As for himself, Hadyn has been keeping an extra close eye on those Pinot Noir grapes. He’s hoping 2022 will provide another great Pinot Noir vintage to enjoy under those stars.

Are you 18 or older? This website requires you to be 18 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.