An Oregon native and graduate of Stanford University, Jen adds a depth of international winemaking experience including in the USA, France, South Africa and Australia. She has completed 21 harvests in NZ and over 35 vintages overall. Here in Otago, Jen was the head winemaker for Olssens (which went on to become Terra Sancta), from 2009 till 2014.
Prior to joining Valli, Jen was the first winemaker to receive the ‘Champion Winemaker Award’ at the prestigious New Zealand International Wine Show. With Jen leading the winemaking team, our wines continue to receive top recognition including trophy honours both domestic and international - with the IWC (International Wine Challenge, London), the Decanter World Wine Awards, and the NZ Royal Easter Show to name a few. Jen was awarded the Winemaker of the Year as part of the NZ International Aromatics Competition in 2018 and nominated as one of six finalists in the Gourmet Traveller WINE New Zealand Winemaker of the Year in 2019. In 2020, she was nominated for a second time - but this time she took home the title of New Zealand Winemaker of the Year.
Beyond her commitment to making consistent, top quality, site-expressive wines, Jen is very open-minded and inquisitive, putting her at the forefront of innovation and experimentation with skin contact Pinot Gris, oak forests, and fermentation techniques including whole cluster fermentation.
Jen loves to share her tremendous passion for wine and winemaking, teaching others about wine and its endless potential for enjoyment. She is Co-Chair of the New World Wine Awards, an accomplished Wine Judge and is very active in the local wine industry, having served twice as the Chairperson for our Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration. She regularly participates in the NZ Winegrowers Mentoring programme and has helped extensively with the organisation of both the National and Central Otago Winemakers’ Workshops. In 2023, Jen was added to Kea’s World Class New Zealand network for her overall contributions to the wine industry and specifically for championing the launch of Valli’s charity wine initiative which is now in its 4th vintage. Also in 2023, Mindfood Magazine listed Jen as one of the 15 most influential people in the international wine, spirits, and beverage industry, setting the benchmark for excellence around the world.
When Jen isn’t in our winery, vineyards, or out sharing Valli wines and the Otago story both home and abroad, she can be found walking her black Labradors around Wanaka or up in the mountains skiing, biking or tramping.