James' association with New Zealand's wine industry began with a career in oenology working for an Auckland based wine company, while Ivan's started when he and wife Margaret established one of Marlborough's earliest private vineyards.
Ivan and James then met while working at Cloudy Bay Vineyards and quickly established an enduring friendship along with an appreciation of good wine. Ivan was Cloudy Bay's viticulturist for 18 years and in the latter years a Director while James was the Company's Oenologist for 12 years. Together they ran the vintages for a number of years and played an integral part in the evolution of the Cloudy Bay brand.
Over the years Ivan has been intimately involved in the evolution of the Marlborough Wine Industry, particularly as a member of the Board of Wine Marlborough (the industry representative body) and as Chairman of the Marlborough Wine Research Centre Board. James has also gained recognition in the industry, particularly for his pioneering work with natural Sauvignon Blanc ferments.
After working together at Cloudy Bay and finding they shared the same aspirations, James and Ivan decided to return to a more ‘hands-on’ approach to winemaking. Using fruit from the 80 hectare Dog Point Vineyard established by Ivan and Margaret, the pair launched the Dog Point label together with wives Wendy and Margaret in February 2004 using fruit from the 2002 vintage.
The two couples bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Dog Point brand, and are unanimous in their quest to make regionally distinctive wines with a point of difference. Totally hands-on, the partners are involved from the vineyard to the winery and market place valuing tremendously the loyal vineyard team who work closely with them. All the winery work is carried out by James and Ivan, who prefer an attention to detail and hands on approach utilising old world philosophies and new world technology in their winemaking.
During their careers both men have travelled and tasted widely, particularly appreciating Burgundy and the low interventionist approach favoured by many producers there. This approach has certainly influenced James and Ivan’s approach to winemaking.