Profile: Abe Salt

He believes Hawkes Bay, with its famous (at least among the wine trade) Gimblett Gravels, is undervalued, particularly its Chardonnays and Bordeaux blends.

When and where did he first drink alcohol? “When I was about eight I tried some of the beer my dad brewed in the bathtub. It was awful and may have been the reason I drank wine at university when all my friends were drinking beer.”

Favourite drink? “Pinot Noir with Peking duck,” he replies. “I am quite fickle with wine, always experimenting with new varieties and regions. I’ll give anything a go.” He also likes smoky, peaty whiskies, such as Lagavulin.

What is left for him to achieve? “I’m only getting started so there is so much more that I want to achieve. I get enormous satisfaction from working with ambitious and innovative people, so I want to continue to challenge myself and my team to test the limits of what Villa Maria can do.”

He has little time outside of work and says: “I lead a pretty busy life with work and a young family, so there isn’t much chance these days to indulge in things like golf or poker. I do not get to play [golf] often. I think I had a better handicap when I was a 10-year-old.”

Is he lucky? “Absolutely. I’m lucky to be involved in the wine industry, to live in a beautiful country like New Zealand and to have the opportunity to lead Villa Maria.”