Diana and Frank with Champagne Laughing Outside

Diana + Frank

We’re two nerds from the Midwest who somehow found our way to the wine industry. Together, we have over 15 years of experience in the wine biz and a bunch of certifications. We both worked as sommeliers in Chicago at James Beard award winning and Michelin starred restaurants. In 2017, we moved to Aotearoa New Zealand, so Diana could pursue her Master’s in Winemaking.

We never left.Over time, we began to realize that there was a big problem in the wine industry: snooty, boring, gatekeepers. These gatekeepers prevent wine lovers stateside from enjoying fun, exciting wines from around the globe – including from Aotearoa New Zealand.Isn’t that some bull?We think so too, which is why we created Responsible Hedonist. We’re crafting sustainable, fun, exciting wines from Aotearoa New Zealand and we can’t wait to share them with you!

Aotearoa New zealand

First things first, Aotearoa is the Māori name for the country. The Māori were the first to discover these isles and arrived here ~800 years ago. They:

  • Came from Polynesia via waka (canoe)
  • Named the newly discovered area Aotearoa, which translates to ‘long white cloud.’
  • Are related to the same expert sailors who discovered Hawai’i

Aotearoa is used interchangeably with New Zealand here, so we’ll do the same. Aotearoa:

  • Has about the same population and is the same size of Colorado, but it’s in the South Pacific near Australia
  • Is so far away that sometimes people forget to include it on world maps
  • Made up of many islands but two main islands, the North and South, make up most of the country.

Wine’s been made in France longer than people have been in Aotearoa New Zealand, making it a really young and adventurous wine region. We fell in love with the wines here and decided that instead of going back to the states, we’d make wine right here amongst this stunning landscape.

tale of two Islands

The North Island, where we live, has 75% of the population and is known for its sunshine, beaches, and geothermal activity (volcanoes and hot pools).

The South Island has more sheep than people (#truestory) and the Southern Alps run the length of this rugged island. There’s a reason film crews seek out this stunning landscape. Think waterfalls, snow capped mountains, bungee jumping, and long hikes.

The major wine regions are Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, and Central Otago. Most of our fruit will be coming from Hawke’s Bay this year in an area known as the Bridge Pa Triangle.