Weekly Interview: Adam Kubrock

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 03-31-2017

Adam Kubrock

Adam Kubrock

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Adam Kubrock, the winemaker at Hillersden Wines in Marlborough, New Zealand.

Adam hails from Walla Walla, Washington, which is of course famous for its wines. There, he began his career in the wine industry, working at Gramercy Cellars. Then Adam visited New Zealand to experience winegrowing in a cooler-climate region. Initially he thought he would stay just a few weeks, but after brief posts at other wineries, Adam settled down at Hillersden Wines.

Now, Adam oversees the winemaking for Hillersden’s portfolio of wines, which includes a Pinot Gris, a Pinot Noir, a Riesling, and of course a Sauvignon Blanc.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Where were you born and raised?
Walla Walla, Washington, USA.

When and how did you get into wine?
My brother introduced me to it in 2007. It clicked with all of my interests.

What has been your career path to where you are?
I took the most roundabout way to get into wine. I bounced around trying to find that path. I was a cellar rat and lucky to be mentored by some very good winemakers at Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla. I wanted to expand my experience and work in proper cool-climate winegrowing, so I went to New Zealand for a short stint. That stint quickly grew into six years and Marlborough has become my home.

In your view, what makes your vineyards special?
It is on the margin of winegrowing in New Zealand. It is challenging, but when it works, the wine is great. And it’s always unique. I also love the proximity to the Wairau River for personal, fish-related reasons.

What is your general winemaking philosophy?
Our wines should clearly reflect our site. We spend so much time working on the fruit that it is important that it is showcased. My job is to bring out the best of that fruit in the wines. It’s funny because that usually means doing the work in the vineyard so that we do as little winemaking as possible in the winery. What other profession works that way?

What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?
Our vineyards can be very challenging. We have this tense relationship with nature there – it is our friend, but also our enemy when the weather turns against us. We try to be the most responsible caretakers of the land and to help the vines find a happy balance. I would also say that it is a massive challenge to stand out in today’s global wine market.

Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?
I have to name-drop my own brother, Brandon Kubrock, at Ardor Cellars. He has worked so hard to get where he is and is truly a self-made talent. If you get a chance to taste his wines you will not be disappointed. There are a lot of other winemakers I greatly respect. In general, they are those that see the trends and the market research, but tend to make wines that are respectful of the vines and the land. They make wine that they love to drink from special, unique places.

What new winemakers are you most excited about, and why?
I am seeing a whole new wave of young winemakers across the U.S. bringing wine back into balance. Wine doesn’t have to be overextracted, overripe, overoaked, and overalcoholic. At a time when the American palate seems to be craving big, sweet, overblown wines, it is great to see the new wave focus on lower alcohol, finesse, acid, and texture. I see this in wines from all over CA, WA, and even NY. Shoot, I recently read a piece from Jancis Robinson about Aussie winemakers surfing this wave.

What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?
Walla Walla and Cote-Rotie. There are great wines that I enjoy from all over the world, but whenever I am drinking from WW or CR, I get pretty excited. You know I’m pumped about it when I can’t wait to share it with you.

What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?
I recall two wines from the same vintage pretty clearly.  Didier Dagueneau 2007 Silex – we drank it after my brother’s wedding and I was blown away.  Also from 2007, I loved the Chateau d’Ampuis from Guigal.

What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?
Our cellar is pretty young. I have a couple of early 90s Aussie Cabs. It’s also a pretty inexpensive cellar – so much great wine out there at less than $75 that I struggle to spend more. I think the priciest bottle is probably ‘15 Donnhoff NH GG.

What’s open in your kitchen right now?
2014 Art Den Hoed Syrah from Ardor Cellars in Walla Walla.

If you had to pick one red and one white to drink for the next month with every dinner, what would you choose?
Tough call. I’m on a bit of a Riesling kick at the moment. But I would probably say Pinot Noir and Chardonnay because of their range.

Is beer ever better than wine?
Let’s not get crazy here. I think this is more of a both/and situation than an either/or one.

How do you spend your days off?
I love adventuring around the South Island with my fiancée. We often find ourselves fishing or hiking somewhere. OK, so I fish and she patiently supports me. We also tend to find ourselves barbecuing with friends.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am a pretty open book.

If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
Before I discovered wine,I was about to go back to school to study engineering.

How do you define success?
I think it is a good measure of success when the people around you and on your team are growing and succeeding.

Comments (1)

  1. Interesting interview. Love the Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs :)