Trudy Sheild is the very talented winemaker behind some of the best wines produced in this region, and I have rated her skills very highly for many years. During her time as the winemaker at Waimea Estates and for Middle Earth Wines she produced some outstanding wines.
When the Middle Earth winery and surrounding vineyards were sold to Waimea Nurseries a year or so ago Trudy and former Middle Earth GM Blair Gibbs set out to create their own brand with Trudy as the winemaker and the very versatile Blair as general, sales and marketing manager!
With a combined 50 years’ experience in the wine industry from Nelson to Marlborough and the World they have a business partnership based on quality and previous successes that I’m sure will see SHEiLD Wines thrive.
While they may not own their own vineyards, they do know great fruit when they see it, and have fruit contracts with several of Nelsons most experienced growers, growers they have worked with for many years in different capacities. Hence, they can “trust we will receive the best fruit the vintage has to offer – something that’s critical to producing premium wines.” Having known Trudy for many years I know I can trust the quality of the wines she makes.
Trudy says “making then selling our wines is one thing but having good working relationships with our growers is paramount to us growing a successful brand. Grapes are coming from vineyards we have worked with for a long time, understanding the flavour profiles of the fruit from the different sites. Combined with our trust in the growers it gives us confidence that we can deliver a range of quality wines that deliver consistency in both great and more challenges harvests. The ultimate is to produce lovable wines that our customers will come back for year after year.”
Trudy told me that as the winemaker she is quite simply the “cook at the end of a long line and, even though consumers are weirdly interested in winemakers, it takes so many people and much collaboration across numerous skills sets to a get a great wine into bottle.”
She went on to say “it was irresistible to use a shield image for the SHEiLD logo. But I am chuffed Blair’s clever friend, our designer, has layered different representations of shields one upon the other to speak of ‘all the different people’ who have crossed our paths, touched our lives, or helped in some way in the production of the wines. This layering also giving a nice impression of the passage through time. The winemaker’s name might be on the bottle but I have a small role in what is an elaborate play.”
While we were talking Trudy told me how they decided on a font for the brand name. “I said if the label is going to carry my surname, then the font has to feel familiar to me. Our designer offered up several fonts, but they just didn’t feel right to me. My dad tends to write in capitals with the occasional small letter, so I asked him to write our surname down, I forwarded this to the designer, and he created the bespoke font. It is very personal and emphasises the unusual spelling of our family name.”
Trudy makes their wines at Heaphy Winery in the Upper Moutrere, where she said “it’s been a real pleasure” sharing the space and working alongside the Heaphy winemakers and vineyard crew who step into the winery over harvest.
Trudy says that “with such a neat group of people around me, and Blair as a business partner with the experience and determination he brings to the business, I’m feeling super lucky and excited about what’s ahead”.
To get some balance in her life Trudy loves sailing, “it’s a passion that keeps me going, everyone needs some time away from their real job.”
I think it’s fair to say Blair and Trudy know a good thing when they see, smell, taste….and make it. They both love Nelson and everything it has to offer. Both have an appreciation for the good things in life, something they are sharing with us in their SHEiLD wines and want you to “take your time and share the pleasure of great food and delicious wines.”
SHEiLD is stocked (along with all the other wines produced at this site) at North Eatery, the café at Heaphy Winery, as well as other retail outlets. I am delighted to report the incredibly popular Pinot Meunier Rose she used to produce under the Middle Earth label is included in the SHEiLD range of wines, look out for the distinctive label at your favourite wine shop or check them out online at www.sheildwine.nz