Central Otago, New Zealand
"Wine is beautiful because grape vines are able to express their terroir, the character of the land. Chemical fertilisers change the character of the wine. The most important thing about drinking my wine is to see if I can find life and soul in it." - Yoshiaki Sato
Yoshi and his wife Kyoko have an atypical background, having worked in the banking industry for 12 years before the idea of making their own wine budded. In 2006, after quitting their jobs to travel and gain hands-on experience by completing vintages in Burgundy, the Loire and Alsace, they moved back to New Zealand. After a year of study at Lincoln University, Yoshi joined the Felton Road team and left at the end of 2009 to start Sato wines, year of his first own label too. Until now, they have been sourcing fruit from organic vineyards around Central Otago, while, in early 2016, they purchased their own farm in the Pisa sub-region. Planted with Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir, this is the first year of these wine’s releases!
Sato makes elegant, precise wines. He picks early to retain freshness and acidity, and to avoid having fruits that are too ripe. This, and his low-interventionist approach, are what distinguish him from other winemakers of the region. Yoshi refuses to use industrial yeast and bacteria and tries not to add any chemicals or additives during vinification and maturation in barrels. He adds only 15ppm of SO2 at bottling, as he believes SO2 destroys natural microbial balance and breaks the original natural ferment flavour. With all of these factors in winemaking, he believes Sato Wines directly reflect the terroir of the vineyard expressing the original natural flavour of the grapes.