Alex Craighead Wines

Martinborough, New Zealand

“Most winemakers don’t ask enough questions like, ‘why are we doing it like this?’ Because usually the answer is, ‘well, that’s just the way I was taught’, but that’s not really good enough. Everyone should want to experiment with their technique, as much as possible.”  - Alex Craighead
Don Wines is named after Josefina’s grandfather Don Ramon Dus and is a homage to his simplicity, honesty and generosity, capturing and drawing his essence and philosophy into their wines. Alex Craighead was born in Australia and had his first experience with the wine world in a wine tasting in Swan Valley, Western Australia. Following this, he decided to quit his accounting studies to start learning about viticulture and oenology in New Zealand before going on an initiatory journey around the world to visit the most vineyards he could.
When he came back to New Zealand, he and his partner Josefina settled down in the Martinborough region and they are the makers behind Don & Kindeli wines. They source their grapes from grape-growers in the Wairarapa, Martinborough wine region, where the farms are in organic conversion. This particular criterion matters to Alex, as he wants to inject a more progressive approach into his own wines. Alex always uses skin fermentation and whole bunch methods to reveal the true flavors of the Pinot Noir and Gris, which adds a lot of complexity to his wines and thus makes them very uncommon in New Zealand’s wine production. 


Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wine. What’s the difference?

To understand this concept and its various ramifications, it is necessary to keep something clear in mind: before the 20th century and the spreading of affordable synthetic fertilisers, all farming was organic. When the shift to the use of synthetics and pesticides happened, it became necessary to diversify traditional organic farming from the new modern farming. 


Simply put, organic farming forbids the use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms. The basic requirements are generally specific and engage the farmers not to use any chemical fertilisers and other synthetic products in the vineyard. It does not prevent the vintner from using the conventional winemaking process after harvesting. 


Let’s take organic farming one step further: Biodynamic. The creator of this agricultural system is the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who developed the principles of biodynamics in a series of lectures given in 1924 in Germany. Here lies the foundation of true organic wines, with a strict limit in the use of additives, stringent requirements and at the end obtaining a biodynamic certification.


The previous definitions are usually, and rightfully, associated with it, because most natural wine is also organic and/or biodynamic. But not vice versa!

Natural wine is wine in its purest form, simply described as nothing added, nothing taken away, just grapes fermented. No manipulation whatsoever, minimal intervention both in the vineyards and in the winery. Healthy grapes, natural yeast and natural fermentation, with no filtration nor fining. Sounds easy, right? However, making natural wine is unforgiving and it requires a bigger amount of work than conventional wine. To this day, natural wine has no certification yet.