Colin Fassnidge and Mike Bennie from Australia to Present at Winetopia
International presenters are back this year at Winetopia with Chef and TV personality Colin Fassnidge joining the line-up in Auckland (21 – 22 July) and Australian wine guru Mike Bennie headlining Wellington (16 – 17 June). They join a strong local cast of educators and entertainers that includes comedian and TV Presenter Ben Hurley hosting the Main Stage in both cities, Masters of Wine Bob Campbell and Stephen Wong, well-loved wine personalities Candice Chow, Mermaid Mary and Joelle Thomson. Winetopia is New Zealand’s most comprehensive wine celebration and each of these presenters are tasked with providing the laughs and helping visitors discover their new favourite wine.
Originally from Dublin, Colin Fassnidge is best known for his long-standing role as judge on My Kitchen Rules and as a chef and restaurateur of Banksia Bistro and the Castlereagh by Fassnidge, both in New South Wales. Colin will be at the event all three sessions, sharing a glass with visitors at the Main Stage, cooking up his favourite dishes to match with wine in the Gaggenau Sommelier Sessions and meeting ticketholders in the Premium Lounge.
Colin says “I am looking forward to exploring all the fantastic wines at Winetopia in Auckland. They say there are so many wineries coming that I am guaranteed to find a new favourite. I hope to meet with lots of food and wine lovers over the two days and it will be great to be visiting Auckland during Elemental AKL.”
It is Mike Bennie’s first visit to Winetopia Wellington. Mike is the wine/drinks editor for Australia's leading food magazine, delicious., Editor-At-Large and contributor/writer to Australia’s most interactive wine commentary website, WineFront.com.au. Mike is famous for his untraditional approach to presenting and will be leading tastings on everything from Pinot to Rosé and some intimate masterclasses too. Mike Bennie says “Having been involved in the Auckland event pre-covid, I am really looking forward to joining the Wellington event. There’s so much great New Zealand wine to discover right now. I am looking forward to sharing my favourite picks in the masterclasses.”
Winetopia has always offered visitors a deep dive into the very best of the New Zealand wine scene, with a collection of wineries from right across the country showcasing Albarino to Syrah and everything in between. This year the events will also feature a new exhibit “Wine Art with CCL Label” with designs from some of our more striking wines displayed in large format at the event to unpack the story behind the wines.
Exclusive to Winetopia Wellington, visitors can “Date the Maker” - a wine-centric version of speed dating. First visitors select the session they like – from Beautiful Bubbles to Rosé or Pinot and then enjoy a rapid-fire tasting with atop line-up of winemakers. “Wine Blind” is the Winetopia version of blind tasting and a fun way of trying a range of different wines then figuring out which one is which with a seasoned guru leading the process.
Exclusive to Auckland is the Gaggenau Sommelier Sessions which will see chefs and sommeliers collaborate in food demonstrations and wine pairings. This is an intimate and highly sought after experience at the event and this year the luxury kitchen set up will feature chefs Colin Fassnidge, Des Harris, Tim Read and sommeliers Joe Wang, Candice Chow and Jeremy Ellis.
Winetopia Auckland, this year part of Elemental AKL, has a new venue, the Viaduct Event Centre, and a range of pop-up Auckland restaurants. This allows for more people than ever before to explore the best of our wine and food scene during the city’s winter festival. Other new additions to the programme include a Māori wine and food experience “Ngā hua a te whenua - A gift from the land with Tohu” and an exploration of Auckland wineries being led by Mermaid Therese-Blair (AKA Mermaid Mary) on the Friday evening.
Winetopia is about celebrating excellence – the best wine the best food and the best entertainment. This year that includes two brilliant music ensembles – led by Fat Freddy’s Drop Trombonist Joe Lindsay and Supergroove Saxophonist Nick Atkinson in Wellington (the Lindsay, Atkinson Municipal Brass Band or L.A.M.B.B. for short) and Love Square in Auckland which will on Friday also feature Nick Atkinson plus Finn Scholes on trumpet, Alistair Deverick on drums and Synthony’s Lewis McCallum playing sax on the Saturday sessions.
All this line-up is to complement the huge collection of wines on offer from around the country. Each New Zealand wine region is represented at the events, with prestigious brand like Craggy Range, Rippon and Nautilus Estate and new boutique wineries such as Shed 530, Stad Ko and Mora. All wines can be considered premium and the optional Golden Coins even offer visitors a chance to try bottles of wine that retail for over $100 per bottle and have achieved top marks by reviewers. Delicious food options in each city range from fresh Mahurangi Oysters to cheeses and chocolates – something for every palate and every delectable wine match.
Tickets start at just $49 (+ fees) including a Spiegelau glass to take home, five tasting tokens and all the action on the Main Stage.