Winemaker / General Manager
Matt Dicey – B.Sc & M.App Sc
Matt (aka Le Grand Fromage) has a lifelong association with the wine industry, and is a fourth generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas. He returned to Bannockburn in 1998 to try his hand at the ultimate winemaking challenge – making the best wines possible in a region with infinite potential. Matt's winter passion is skiing with his family, while summers bring jet boating and mountain biking "adventures".
Sales and Marketing Manager
Michael Herrick Dip Mktg
Mike has always had a passion for wine, and has been working in the industry since 1989. He spent three years in Britain and Europe gaining sales and marketing experience prior to returning to work at a leading New Zealand wine company. Central Otago called, and in late 2003 Mike came to work at Mt Difficulty. When not travelling to our many international markets, Mike enjoys the Central Otago lifestyle with his young family.
Roger deGrauwRoger (aka the Lab Rat Extraordinaire) spent twenty years obsessively tasting and hoarding wine until his wife suggested this might be a good career direction. He went to EIT in Hawkes Bay to get a Certificate in Winemaking then began working at Mt Difficulty in 1999. For several years Roger also did alternate vintages in Oregon, Niagara and Burgundy. Roger has been our assistant winemaker since vintage 2001, and brings an alternative palate to Mt Difficulty, along with his artisanal approach to Rosé.
Ingrid has worked at Mt Difficulty since finishing her oenological study at Lincoln in 2005. but has come and gone in those years. She’s worked vintages elsewhere, in Martinborough and Europe, and traveled extensively with husband Mark. The arrival of daughter Ava in 2010 brought about lots of change, and they’re now happily settled in Bannockburn.
STELLA – Winery Dog (IN TRAINING)
After the sudden loss of our dear Frankie in mid 2012 we endured several months as a dogless winery. However in November Matt made the trip to Christchurch to collect Stella, who was the runt of a litter of six abandoned newborn puppies. We’re not sure what breed she is, but we’re betting on Staffie and Ridgeback, with maybe some Boxer or Vizsla. Stella’s got a lovely personality, and is a source of distraction for all the staff in the winery – she’s always keen for a cuddle! Our two big questions… “Is shadow chasing in the job description for the Mt Difficulty Winery Dog? If so, will Stella pass the test?”
From left to right…
Sharyn Henderson is 2IC in the kitchen, and has been working at Mt Difficulty since 2008. She's come a long way from her background in rural catering, and consistently produces dishes to Werner's standards on his days off. Sharyn is the life and soul of the party and, having moved out of town, she's got the perfect excuse to have the party at her place; a 100 metre flying fox!
Jacqui Rose-Anderson (Cellar Door Manager) began working at Mt Difficulty in 2003 after several years in wine retail. She is the first point of contact for our mailing list members, for orders and general inquiries, and also manages 'The Pinot Club' and the 'Not-So-Difficult Wine Club'. On Tuesdays you'll generally get her out of office message; she'll be on the Cromwell golf course.
Cheryl Decke (front) arrived in Cromwell from Dunedin in 2009 and made the leap from hospital (as a theatre aid) to hospitality at Mt Difficulty. Cheryl works in the restaurant and loves to take care of our diners. She's famous for walking down stairs in buses, but that's another story!
Lisa Cruickshank-Robertson came on board just in time for a series of Mt D Christmas parties in 2011, and wondered what she'd got herself into. Since then she's become the Cellar Door crew's Events Queen, and you'll find her smiling face (and occasionally her 'Fro) in the restaurant or behind the coffee machine.
Cindy McLeod began working in the restaurant in October 2012 and is relishing learning about wine and hospitality.
Jordan Mace travels to Mt Difficulty from Frankton every day, having moved to Queenstown from Whangamata. He’s ‘chef de partie’, and since joining the kitchen crew in August 2012 he has learned a lot about flavours and food presentation from Chef Werner.
Nicki McDonald came to the Cellar Door from the vineyards in 2007 and loves to talk viticulture. Pipeclay Terrace was the first vineyard Nicki worked in and so it was a case of love at first sight when she first tasted Pipeclay Terrace Pinot Noir 2004. When she's not behind the tasting counter you might find her in the restaurant, but she's also been seen racing a Ford at the Cromwell speedway though she swears she prefers Holden!
Werner Hecht-Wendt (Executive Chef) began at Mt Difficulty in early 2008, coming to us via restaurants at Nugget Point and Amisfield. His culinary focus is on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients; a keen gardener, he has established a small vegetable and herb garden at the Cellar Door. Werner loves to play golf but doesn't get out as often as he would like, which makes it a challenge to play to his 10 handicap!
Kristin Wallace fell in love with wine after deciding, post degree, that a career in accounting didn’t suit her personality! While travelling in Europe she experienced an “aha” moment, and on returning to New Zealand set about finding the perfect place to immerse herself in wine culture. In December 2012 she moved from Mt Maunganui to Mt Difficulty, and now that she has fallen in love with Central Otago we can only hope that this self confessed beach girl can can hack a real winter.
Emma McDonald is most often found in the new cellar door, where she'll share a taste of the Essence of Central Otago with you. Emma's background is in hospitality but since coming to work at Difficulty in 2006 she has leapt at any opportunity to learn about and taste wines, studying WSET at Levels 2 and 3. Emma rarely sits still for a moment in her spare time and loves to run, which means she can indulge her love of fine food and wine.
Rebecca Ranger (Bex) came on board in September 2012, deciding she had found the perfect workplace to combine her love of the hospitality trade with wine! She threw off her Auckland colours many years ago, and has embraced the ‘Coaster’ lifestyle. She never lets a chance to go white-baiting slide.
Sandy Shore (not shown) has been working as a kitchen hand in the restaurant since March 2013. Sandy is a people person; experienced in all aspects of hospitality, with three years training in cookery. She’s a South Islander through and through!
Wendy Hecht-Wendt (not shown) is Werner's other half and his inspiration. They met on London's Tower Bridge when both were on their OEs and make a great team, particularly in the production of their two gorgeous daughters. Wendy works for Mt Difficulty on a casual basis, and loves chocolate and Long Gully Noble Riesling (not generally at the same time!).
Julie Richmond began working as Administration Manager at Mt Difficulty in early 2013.
Rob Cameron is Mt Difficulty's Chief Financial Officer, the money man. He keeps our books balanced while also living a balanced lifestyle - working for Mt Difficulty part-time allows him to indulge in his passions for travel and cultural pursuits. Matt laughs that, if we're to take our sustainability seriously, Rob needs to decrease his carbon footprint and walk the 100 metres to work!
Merlene Starkey has been working in Marketing since 2006, taking care of our export orders, domestic and overseas wine show entries. She also assists with general admin in the winery office. Merlene loves Central Otago for its relaxing lifestyle and fantastic scenery and, at the weekend, likes to travel to different places to enjoy local food and wine. Just leave the blue cheese off, thanks.
Mariea Crowle began working for Mt Difficulty back when the Cellar Door "upstairs" was a twinkle in Matt's eyes, but has come and gone according to her family's needs. These days she's at Mt Difficulty in an administrative role, generally making sure our bills are paid. She is known to be very vocal, most obviously in support of her two children's sporting exploits, and has been nicknamed "paparazzi" as she clicks their every achievement.