Founder, Loveblock Vintners
Erica Crawford began her career as a young scientist in cardiac medicine in her native South Africa, but it was her self-taught skills as an exporter and marketer that saw her rise to business prominence in New Zealand. Nearly twenty years later, those skills as well as her life experiences and ethical beliefs are brought to bear in a wide range of professional and cause-related pursuits.
Erica co-founded Kim Crawford Wines in 1996, inventing the “virtual winery” business model that would later come to be widely adopted in the wine industry. She grew the company from a small, family-owned business to a significant international player before selling the brand to a North American alcohol beverage giant.
Today Erica manages the family’s wine interests with the same business savvy and sense of vision, but within a completely different paradigm. There’s nothing virtual about the Loveblock: The estate holds a farm and vineyards in Marlborough and Central Otago where vineyards or “blocks” are either certified organic or are on a low-intervention regime.
“Falling in love with the view was a part of the Loveblock story,” Erica says. “As we converted the sheep paddock to plantable land, we took the decision to tackle organics, a cause that is deeply personal to me. This philosophy was anchored when life forced me to carefully and progressively examine the chemical nature of our immediate environment.”
The Loveblock farm in Awatere Valley is certified organic by BioGro New Zealand, the country’s leading organic certifier. The Central Otago property, purchased in 2008 and dedicated solely to Pinot Noir, is SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing) accredited.
In addition to guiding Loveblock and working towards a Post Graduate Viticulture qualification, Erica sits on the investment committee of the Auckland University Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge and is a member of the NZ Global Women Advisory Board, an organization focusing on mentoring women business leaders and helping build peer networks.
Erica is married to Kim Crawford, winemaker at Loveblock. They have two children, Rory and Pia.
Led by winemaker Brianne Day, Day Wines is a natural wine producer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Brianne crafts wines that are instinctive, restrained and capture a specific time and place. After two years traveling to over 80 wine regions, Brianne cut her teeth working harvest at Brooks, Scott Paul, Willakenzie Estate, Belle Pente & Grochau Cellars in the Willamette Valley, Domaine Huber Verdereau in Volnay, Burgundy; along with stints in New Zealand, and Argentina. Dedicated to site-driven expressions, Brianne seeks out fruit from farmer-owned biodynamic and organic vineyards and crafts wine using minimalist winemaking methods. Between 2012 and 2017, Day Wines grew from 125 cases annually to 6,000. In 2015, Brianne realized her dream of creating an incubator for emerging winemakers by opening a 14,000-square-foot collective winery and tasting room in Dundee, Oregon. She has made a splash on the natural wine scene with her creative and unorthodox wines, while paying homage to the Old World. Brianne was selected as one of the top 40 tastemakers under 40 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, was one of the few American winemakers at the seminal RAW Wine Fair in London and New York City, and one of seven domestic producers mentioned in the book Natural Wine.
Farmer & Proprietor
After planting Rancho Ontiveros, James worked in vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley, driving home to Santa Maria on the weekends to take care of his own vineyard. It was during this time that James developed many impactful relationships in the wine industry, and began looking at wine and winemaking as a way of life rather than solely a practical use of the land. In 2003, he took his first of many trips to Burgundy, tasting in the cellars, walking the vineyards, and learning about biodynamic practices of producers like Domaine Dujac, Lucien Le Moine, Domaine Leflaive, and Domaine Romanée-Conti. He would take these lessons home with him to the Santa Maria Valley, and implement many in his own vineyards and wines.