News, announcements and more.

Jul 02, 2019

First Lady' of New Zealand Wine to be inducted into Business hall of fame

The New Zealand wine legend instrumental in bringing New Zealand wine onto the world stage is to be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame.

Jane Hunter

Jane Hunter, who has been the managing director of Hunter's Wines since 1987 and is often described as the 'First Lady of New Zealand wine', said she felt "slightly embarrassed" and "very honoured" when told she was to be inducted.

"I'm a little bit taken aback because we are only a small player in the field of business," she said.

Born in South Australia, Hunter said she grew up "driving tractors and helping out" on the vineyard where her father was a contract grape grower for BRL Hardy.

She went on to gain a degree in agricultural science from the University of Adelaide then working in various jobs including teaching horticulture to prisoners in Australia and running at café in Waikanae, before becoming national viticulturist for Montana Wines in Blenheim.

In 1984, she met and married Irishman Ernie Hunter who had started the Hunter's Wines company in 1979.

The two brought Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to the world stage when the company won the top award at the 1986 Sunday Times Wine Festival in London.

Tragically, just a year later Ernie Hunter died in a car accident and Jane Hunter had to take over as managing director.

Running the company was a challenge Hunter did not expect, but her experience and knowledge of wine proved invaluable, as she led the company to outstanding local and international success.

"Rather than a winery making wine and having all that lovely romanticism, we are actually in the real world of business now," she said.

"Having so many wineries in NZ now our main market is exports. Where we used to get up and look at weather forecasts, now we get up and look at exchange rates."

In 1997, Hunter was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Massey University and in 2009 she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to viticulture.

She has also been recognised at the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's 'World Class New Zealand Awards' for her outstanding contribution to the country's economic development.

Hunter's philosophy has always been quality before quantity, ensuring the company's wines are medal winners and in-demand on the international market.

"It's been a hard a lesson for someone who is impatient – but things take time and it is best to do them well," she said.

Hunter says she can't imagine herself exiting the business completely, though she is slowly handing over more responsibility to her nephews.

To celebrate her induction Hunter says she will crack open a bottle of MiruMiru, one of the winery's award-winning sparkling wines.

Celebrate the 2019 Laureates as they are admitted to the Business Hall of Fame at the annual black-tie gala dinner held at the Cordis, Auckland on August 15.

Tickets available online at