Brent Marris, managing director and chief winemaker of New Zealand’s Wither Hills winery, has resigned.
Marris hit the headlines last December after he was found to have submitted Sauvignon Blanc samples to wine competitions that were different from the wine available for sale to the public.
Although Marris resigned his position as chief judge of the Air New Zealand awards, he emphatically denied any wrongdoing. No evidence was found that a special wine batch had been created for awards.
The respected winemaker said that his parting from the company was amicable.
‘I’ll be there until the end of vintage,’ said Marris, adding that he will maintain a relationship with the Marlborough winery, which he sold to Lion Nathan in 2002.
Marris will now focus on his Waihopai River vineyard development in Marlborough and his new brand, The Ned. ‘It was something I’ve been planning for a while,’ he said. ‘After I sold Wither Hills I started hunting around for another piece of land and purchased 150 hectares in 2003. This year is the first vintage where I’ve got a substantial crop and it requires my total focus and attention.’
Marris said The Ned will be made at Wither Hills until he builds his own winery and that Wither Hills staff will manage his vineyard.
Wither Hills will come under full management control of the Lion Nathan Wine Group from 1 May. Ben Glover has become chief winemaker.
Written by Felicity Carter