Jeff Sinnott - Chief Winemaker
Jeff trained as a sommelier in New Zealand in the early 1980s before working in the wine retail and wholesale trade in Melbourne, developing his palate and a deep affection for, amongst other things, fine Pinot Noir. This led him to study at Roseworthy, South Australia, graduating with a Degree in Viticulture and specialising in Pinot Noir and sustainable viticulture.
Several vintages in the great southern land was enough to make him realize that there was more to life than Aussie Shiraz. Jeff headed to Gisborne in 1992 as assistant winemaker at Millton Vineyard and then principal tutor in wine studies at Tairawhiti Polytechnic. In 1997, he was lured to Marlborough to help establish a small family winery called Isabel Estate.
After five years in Marlborough, which included vintages in California and Burgundy and some spectacular results with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc including the IWC Trophy in 1999, Jeff became winemaker at Amisfield in Central Otago.
Around the same time, the site of what would become the Clos Ostler vineyard was found – the lure of Waitaki’s terroir was immediate. Jeff was captivated by the slope, aspect and, more importantly, the underlying limestone seam – this was one of the most viticulturally significant sites in New Zealand.
When Jeff and brother-in-law Jim established Ostler Vineyard, Jeff said: “It is with the greatest of pleasure that I can work with what I believe to be one of this country's Grand Cru estates.”
Jim Jerram - Commander in Chief
Jim is a wine lover and he loves producing it.
As a teen, Jim worked on a sheep station in the Southern Alps before qualifying as a medical doctor, devoting 29 years to this career. This included two years as a volunteer sole charge doctor in Kunde Hospital near Mount Everest in Nepal for Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust, 15 years as a family GP in Nelson and 9 years running the University of Otago's Student Health Service.
During the '90s in Dunedin, Jim honed his appreciation of wine with the help of friends with developed tasting skills. Over many evenings, frequently 'blind', his attraction to the fickle Pinot Noir grape began.
Having met Jeff via Anne, his wife, an idea germinated, incorporating Jim’s frustrated farming ambitions and growing love of wine. Together Jeff and Jim prospected the limestone country in the Waitaki Valley and found the Ostler site.
Anne worked alongside Jim to develop the vineyard, becoming the wine pioneers of the Waitaki Valley. As the first harvest approached in 2004, Jim left his medical career to pursue the production of the 'perfect Pinot Noir grape'.
Jim is to be found at the Vintner's Drop in Kurow, in the Waitaki vineyards, or somewhere around the globe selling our precious products. Other passions include the outdoors, flying, hunting, fishing and the Waitaki Valley and its inhabitants.
Our first taste of the 2020 harvest and she promises to be a good one.
Bow - Chief of Taste
Every good vineyard needs to make sure their wines are matched with outstanding food. So meet Bow, the latest addition to the team. He joined us in March 2020 and quickly assumed the role of food taster.
It's a role he jumped into with all four paws, ready at a moments notice to snaffle any food within reach. Regardless of the time of day, no job is too small. You can rest assured that Bow is dedicated to the cause.