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 (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.
Claire Kendrick (Restaurant Supervisor) came to Mt Difficulty in April 2015 after many years working in hospitality in Queenstown. She’s doing the daily commute to Bannockburn from Lake Hayes Estate and is enjoying the fact that our restaurant is only open for lunch.
Cindy McLeod began working in the restaurant in October 2012 and has since moved into the kitchen where she works on the platter and dessert station and as a kitchen hand. She has a great eye for detail and is relishing learning about food preparation from chef Werner.
Dan Chieng-Brown has been working in the restaurant since March 2014 and is Maitre D’ on Claire’s days off. He’s artistic and created our winning entry in the business section of the Cromwell Trashion Show in 2014.
Emma McDonald works in the tasting room and restaurant, but also behind the scenes in the Cellar Door office. Emma's background is in hospitality but since coming to work at Mt Difficulty in 2006 she has immersed herself in wine, studying WSET at Levels 2 and 3 and acting as convenor for a local wine-tasting club. Emma rarely sits still and loves to run with her Labrador, Bruce.
Erica Lovelock had a trial by fire, starting work in the restaurant in our busiest month ever, January 2015. She’s recently completed a barista course so makes a great coffee, and more often than not you’ll hear her break out into song behind the service counter. Just as well for everyone that she has a great voice!
Greg Dowling is our resident Aussie but loves life in New Zealand, particularly the hunting. He came on board as sous chef in February 2014 and puts out great food on chef Werner’s days off.
Greg Wilkinson (Regional Sales Manager) is here, there and everywhere! Sometimes found behind the tasting counter, other times outside on the terrace showing off the view, but also out on the roads around Central Otago talking to the trade. Greg is an enthusiastic host, and his newly-found passion for wine is only surpassed by his energetic contributions to the local community in his spare time.
Jacqui Rose-Anderson (Cellar Door Manager) worked in wine retail before she arrived at Mt Difficulty in 2003. She has been the first point of contact for our mailing list customers and members of 'The Pinot Club' and the 'Not-So-Difficult Wine Club' for many years, but these days shares that role with Emma and Mel. On Tuesdays you'll sometimes get her out of office message; she'll be on the Cromwell golf course.
Mel Carroll started working in the Cellar Door in April 2015 and is to be found both at the tasting counter and in the back office, where she is learning the intricacies of our mail order business.
Nicki McDonald came to the Cellar Door from the vineyards in 2007 and loves to talk viticulture with visitors to the tasting counter. 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. These days her first love is grand-daughter Marley, who Nicki looks after on her days off.
Sharyn Henderson has worked in the kitchen at Mt Difficulty since 2008, most recently on the platter and dessert station. Sharyn is the life and soul of the party, and having recently built a new home overlooking the lake, complete with 100m flying fox, she's got the perfect excuse to have the party at her place!
Tiané Troussier is in New Zealand on a working holiday Visa but we wish she could stay forever! Tia travels from Wanaka to work here, and we are happy that she has decided to continue to do that rather than getting a winter job up the mountain.
Tyla McDonald is Nicki’s daughter and came to work part-time for us in October 2014 after having Marley. She works three days a week as a kitchen hand and sometimes helps out in the restaurant, where she makes a great coffee.
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!
Julie Richmond has been working at Mt Difficulty since February 2013. She is our Administration/Human Resource Manager, is accountable for smooth running of our office and is responsible for payroll, stock control and all month-end accounting processes. After hours Julie loves to bake along with tramping the hills of Central Otago.
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!
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.