Phil Handford

Phil Handford

New Zealand

Driven by a passion for Pinot Noir, this talented New Zealand winemaker aims to be the best in world!
  • With a heap of GOLD medals Phil is making some of the best Pinot Noir we have ever tasted
  • His first ever vintage was awarded 92 points by Robert Parker.  Every single vintages to date has been awarded gold medals, racking up an amazing 18 GOLD MEDALS in total.
  • Phil alternates between mastermind and master of understatement: "Just going for a paddle" - First solo kayak crossing of Foveaux Strait. "Caught the odd deer" -Acclaimed deer trapper in the 80's." Dabbled in shearing"- 300 sheep in a day. When he says he'll make a bit of wine for us, we know to brace for the best wines imaginable.

Map of Phil's vineyard

Phil Handford's Story

 " In 2001 I facilitated the formation of Grasshopper Rock. A dynamic equity partnership of five slightly crazy families. Good keen men and women, hunters and gatherers at heart who love to test themselves both physically and professionally. Pinot Noir is the world’s most difficult grape to grow and is often called “the heart break grape”. The grape is thin skinned and temperamental, it needs understanding and nurturing in the vineyard. The best pinot noir needs to be grown right on the edge of the climatic limits and the cool Central Otago climate is certainly “growing on the edge”.

 This is what makes it so exciting – because it is so difficult.

 Our aim is to produce the best pinot noir in the world. Best in the world may seem bold but it gives us a clear focus on what we need to do achieve great things. We searched for the best vineyard land and the site we found is now one of the southern most vineyards in the world.

Grasshopper Rock is a small vineyard dedicated exclusively to pinot noir. 38,000 vines were planted on our 8 hectare site in 2003. It is exciting to be part of a vineyard that has been achieved international recognition in such a short time.

Our most memorable moment was when Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded our first vintage 92 points. Until then I had been naive about how much influence one persons name could have. We received emails from around the world and suddenly stores wanted to stock our wine.

The finest moments are when I look back and see what we have achieved in only a few years. After all our planning and hard work, our first three vintages have all achieved outstanding reviews and awards with writers calling Grasshopper Rock “world class” and one that every pinotfile should put on their watch list.

 My words of wisdom for all aspiring winemakers would be...

 'It is the last five percent of work and attention to detail in the vineyard and the winery that is the difference between good and great wine.'"

Phil's Archangels

Archangels are our most interactive customers. They know our wines inside out and help us discover new wines for the site!

Sarah Stull

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Transplant to Florida here. Pharmacy Student, wine enthusiast, photographer, and traveler. I LOVE the Naked Wines experience- getting the opportunity to try wonderful new wines on a regular basis is so exciting and enlightening!

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