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Women in Wine – Ann Banks – June 2015

She may not be a winemaker or owner of a winery but Ann Banks has certainly had a really positive impact on how we buy fine wine in Nelson. Ann is the owner of Casa del Vino, the coolest little wine shop in the top of the South Island with one of the finest selections of New Zealand wines you will find.

Because the shop is small by modern liquor retail standards she simply doesn’t have the space to stock every wine she would like to but the wines she does have are an excellent representation of the fine wines produced in New Zealand and being located in the heart of Nelson city Ann makes sure she has, as you would expect, a comprehensive range of Nelson wines on the shelves alongside a hand-picked selection of wines from around the world.

Ann bought Casa del Vino in 2007 and using her bright, bubbly personality has turned the business into the success it is today. While a key to the success of Casa del Vino is Ann’s ability to select great quality wines, not necessarily the most expensive, the thing regulars love the most is her wine knowledge. With a number of viticulture qualifications and having established her own vineyard in Tasman several years ago she is very well qualified to give you great wine buying advice.

Something else that makes Casa del Vino a special wee shop is the regular tastings Ann organises; every Saturday morning (except around the busy Christmas period) you will find a winemaker or distributor in the shop with tastings of their latest offerings. These tastings give you the opportunity to meet the people who make the wine and quiz them on what makes their particular wines special.

Each month she also hosts a slightly more formal tasting. At these she will have a top class winemaker or importer of fine wines to guide you through an educational tasting. One of the favourite personalities at these tasting is Jean-Christophe Poizat from Maison Vauron in Auckland. This charming Frenchman proudly exhibits wines he imports from his homeland.

However it is Ann’s personality that shines at Casa del Vino, she is passionate about wine without being a wine snob. Having worked in the parliament select committee office dealing with various big personalities at a very volatile time in NZ politics (think Roger Douglas and others) and then for market research companies, Ann has the people skills need to run a successful retail business. With Master’s degree in geography and a Certificate in Wine Production from EIT, the experience of establishing and selling a vineyard owning a wine shop was something she could bring her expertise to.

Ann’s love of the Nelson region and all things wine means if you stop in to browse or buy a wine your conversation with Ann will encompass a whole range of subjects relating to wine, she has plenty of knowledge about everything from the vineyards to wines in the bottle, to storing wine and selecting beautiful glassware to enjoy the wine from.

I have a number of friends, including other wine writers, who make a bee-line for Casa del Vino whenever they visit the region and as one winemaker said to me recently ‘we are so lucky to have such a fantastic wine shop in the region, it is a shop that is really important to Nelson’.

Many small wine shops like Casa del Vino has closed up and gone away since big liquor retailers and supermarkets have been dominating the wine trade but with the energy, knowledge and passion Ann Banks brings to helping you and me buy great wine Casa del Vino is one little wine shop that is thriving.


I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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