The Oenophiliac

Bringing you stories from the world of wine and beer.

Chat with Sam Neill. Actor and Proprietor of Two Paddocks Wines.

2009 vintage. A blend made from our three vineyards – Gibbston, Alexandra, and Redbank at Earnscleugh.

A few days ago I sent a tweet to Sam Neill, actor and vigneron at ‘Two Paddocks’ Central Otago, New Zealand.


Much to my surprise, I received a reply a couple of days later accepting my request.

 Grinning like a Cheshire cat and bouncing around my store with delight I set about putting together my questions.

Here’s what the good man had to say.




  Hi Mike

Sam Neill, 2011 - In the apricot orchard.

1- Name? 

Sam Neill 

2- Occupation?

Actor / Vigneron

3- Favourite Sport?

Rugby. But I was crap. World Cup should be good though.

4- How did you get into wine?

I started drinking wine from boxes. One day I found I could afford good wine, and I’ve never looked back. I tend to think one should drink less, but buy better wine. The first part is the hardest.

5- What is your favourite grape or is it Pinot all the way?

Pinot of course. My favourite white is Riesling. Coincidentally Two Paddocks produces both!

6- What are your favourite wines?

After my own, then Burgundies various, some other N Z and Australian Pinot’s. I have recently discovered Austrian Rieslings, to good effect.

7- Besides New Zealand, do you have a country of preference?

I guess next up would be France. I have a long standing love affair with red and white Burgundies. One must be careful though : a lot of rubbish comes out of Burgundy too. And pricing is problematic : many Burgundies are not at all value for money.

First Paddock, 1999. Gibbston in winter. Picture by Suellen Boag.

8- How do you enjoy wine? With food, on it’s own, social etc.

I’m a little bit rigid here. If I’m at home, I only drink wine with food – and only at dinner. But in fact – every dinner.

9- What influences your wine choices? Price, occasion, season etc.

I confess I drink a lot of Two Paddocks. But if I’m in a wine shop, I usually ask the chap at the desk. I’ve been steered in surprisingly good directions that way – they are often as enthusiastic about wine as you, and love to talk about it.

Redbank Paddocks, 2007 - Offices and cellar door with lavender in the foreground.

10- Champagne. Overpriced in the current climate or do sparkling wines offer better value?

Diplomatic pass.

11- What’s more challenging, preparing for a new film role or waiting for the new vintage?

There is nothing as scary as the weather map in spring or autumn. If you want to grow good pinot you must exist on the very margins of climatic viability. Preparing for a new role can be scary too, but I’m used to that.

12- Whilst away filming or perhaps treading the boards, how much contact do you keep with your winery or are you incredibly trusting and let your guys get on with it?

I absolutely trust my guys, implicitly. But I like to keep in constant touch anyway. It’s my other life. And there are always decisions to be made. Plus, there is the Two Paddocks blog, which has its own following. If I neglect it, I cop a lot of flack.

13- How much do your wines reflect you?

If I could honestly compare myself with TP wine, I’d be seen as something of a braggart. Modesty forefends. I think this is for others to judge.

Alex Paddocks - Harvest time, 2002.

14- Are boutique wineries the way forward or will the ‘big brands’ continue to dominate?

Being tiny , we are more naturally disposed towards the small producer . But in a tight  dry corner I’ll happily drink something from the Titanics.

15- Do you think retailers do enough to educate the public on wine? I don’t mean health wise.

I don’t think it’s their job really. One of the pleasures of discovering wine is the process of learning for oneself. It’s a lifetime’s labour.

16- What do you think the wine industry needs to improve on?

Forget the cork. We have. And it’s such a relief – no more cork roulette.

17- Which wines, countries or regions do you think are worth keeping an eye on for the future?

Diplomatic pass.

18- What tips do you have to anyone looking at getting into the wine trade?

As in all things, don’t even think about it unless you really love it .

Winemaking - Grapes in fermenting barrels.

19- What are the best things, and worst things for you, about wine?

As a producer: best – the immense satisfaction of pouring a great wine you produced yourself. Worst – frost.

As a consumer: best – companionship, conversation, romance … life. Worst – overpriced rubbish .

20- How is the next vintage shaping up?

Very very excited about 2011 – in barrel as we speak.

21- Finally. In wine terms, how would you describe yourself?

A reasonably good vintage, cellaring well.


Two Paddocks is a small family wine producing business that is entirely dedicated to making great wine.We started in 1993 with modest ambitions and first planted five acres of Pinot Noir at our original little vineyard at Gibbston, Central Otago in the deep south of New Zealand. At the same time, our friend Roger Donaldson planted the land next door, hence the name Two Paddocks. (Roger’s paddock proved to be a slow starter, which meant we had to go it on our own; however we kept the title. His brand, Sleeping Dogs, takes its name from the first film we made together.)

Thank you Sam for your time.

I think I’m going to start using your ‘Diplomatic Passes’ in my working life. They could come in handy.

Do check out the Two Paddocks website via the link above. It’s well worth the read.

We tasted Sam’s 2008 Two Paddocks.

Please click on the link to read the review.

North and South Wines LTD

63 Broomwood Rd



SW11 6HU


Alternatively contact your local distributor
for information about where to purchase wine in your region.

New Zealand

Negociants New Zealand
Main Office:
Unit 2D, 95 Ascot Avenue
Greenlane, Auckland
PO Box 4494, Auckland 1
Ph: +64.9.531.5222
Fax: +64.9.531.5205
Freefone: 0800.634.624
freefax: 0800.873.699


205 Grote Street
South Australia, 5000
Tim Evans
Sales Manager – Imported Wine
Phone: +61.8.8112.4233
Fax: +61.8.8112.4280

United Kingdom

Haynes Hanson & Clark
7 Elystan Street
London SW3 3NT
Phone: + 44.207.5847927
Fax: + 44.207.5847967

Hong Kong

Northeast Wines & Spirits Ltd
Unit B1, 1/F Vita Tower
29 Wong Chuk Hang Road
Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Phone: +852.28735733
Fax: +852.25545369

Canada: Toronto

Glen-Ward Wines Inc.
183 Woodholme Place
Ontario N6G 0H4
Ph: 1.519.471.0151
Mobile: 1.416.347.5428
Fax: 1.416.352.5575

Canada: British Columbia

New World Wines
Peter & Elizabeth Crews
525 Thetford Place
West Vancouver V7S 1R8
Tel: +778.279.8463
Fax: +778.279.8464

Canada: Quebec

Valmonti Inc.
4012 Avenue Royal
Quebec H4A 2M5
Ph: +514.4860846
Fax: +514.5753314


Hermitage Wines Pte Ltd
102E Pasir Panjang Road
02 –05 Citilink Warehouse Complex
Ph: +65 6272 2013
Fax: +65 6272 2061

4 comments on “Chat with Sam Neill. Actor and Proprietor of Two Paddocks Wines.

  1. Nathan meyers
    June 21, 2011

    Nice interview Mike. Look forward to some more celebs 🙂


  2. Pingback: Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2008 « Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.

  3. Chante
    June 28, 2011

    Another really nice interview, thank you! And I too think I’ll take a bit of license with the “diplomatic pass” from time to time…perhaps I might avoid a bit of unnecessary aggravation now and then! 🙂


    • Magics Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.
      June 28, 2011

      Thank you for your kind words.
      Diplomatic passes are the way forward.
      Keep an eye out for more interviews. I have Bob Berton – Berton Vineyards coming up, Debra Meiburg MW and just had the OK to do a short interview with Jancis Robinson MW.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 19, 2011 by in Interviews..

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,411 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 75,205 hits
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: