For Amoise, she is keenly focused on sourcing the best quality organic fruit she can, and spends time working in the vines. She is particularly interested in biodynamic farming and applies its labour-intensive practises wherever possible. That’s quite a commitment for a winemaker who is yet to own a vineyard, but it speaks to Farnsworth’s belief that great wine starts with what happens at the vines.
Canadian Amy Farnsworth may be New Zealand’s natty new kid on the block, though she’s spent nearly two decades in the wine industry. After time in the hospitality industry and later wine retail, where she mainly sold biodynamic wines, Farnsworth worked harvests around the world. She settled in New Zealand, her mother’s native country, where she worked for wineries including biodynamic champion Felton Road.
Labour shortages were one of the biggest challenges faced, with most contracted pickers allocated to larger companies... But she found positives in the great sense of communitiy that this brought with it. "It's a great feeling having someone offer to truck your fruit for you while you're still picking. I would want to go that way again next year, even if the situation improves."
After drinking a particularly delicious glass of Amoise, Amphora Gris, 2021, $37, when I was out for lunch recently, I asked winemaker Amy Farnsworth what she felt the use of the tinajas gave to the finished wine.
“I feel that the tinajas allow for an authentic experience of the vineyard characteristics and what happened during the vintage that year,” she said. “There is a purity of fruit that I couldn’t obtain through old oak barrels. Clay retains small, fine, delicate tannins, followed by a vibrant and racy acidity. There’s an energetic quality that can’t necessarily be articulated in words.”
In 2018, Amy searched tirelessly for organic fruit, and with it being so difficult to find in Hawke’s Bay, she had begun to accept the postponement of her dream for Amoise, yet again! As fate would have it, she happened to sit next to another Amy at a wine tasting, who became a great friend. Her new friend happened to be cousins with an established local winemaker, and he had some organic fruit she could purchase! It was Pinot Gris, and a small amount of Gewürztraminer. Amy recognized the opportunity in front of her and seized it.