Winemaker / General Manager
Matt Dicey – B.Sc & M.App Sc
Matt (aka Le Grand Fromage) has a lifelong association with the wine industry, and is a fourth generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas. He returned to Bannockburn in 1998 to try his hand at the ultimate winemaking challenge – making the best wines possible in a region with infinite potential. Matt's winter passion is skiing with his family, while summers bring jet boating and mountain biking "adventures".
Sales and Marketing Manager
After a number of years in the wine industry overseas, Fraser and his family moved to Central Otago in early 2016. Originally with a hospitality background, Fraser has worked in various marketing and sales roles in NZ, the United States, and most recently, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Tennis and travel are Fraser’s passions; good coffee and Pearl Jam are what can change a good day into a great one.
Roger (aka the Lab Rat Extraordinaire) spent twenty years obsessively tasting and hoarding wine until his wife suggested this might be a good career direction. He went to EIT in Hawkes Bay to get a Certificate in Winemaking then began working at Mt Difficulty in 1999. For several years Roger also did alternate vintages in Oregon, Niagara and Burgundy. Roger has been our assistant winemaker since vintage 2001, and brings an alternative palate to Mt Difficulty, along with his artisanal approach to Rosé.
Cassey Rhodes ran away from the circus in Australia to join us at Mt Difficulty in February 2016. She has become an integral part of the restaurant providing smiles and stellar service for all who come in.
Claire Kendrick is our Essex girl who left England for New Zealand. She now lives in Queenstown with her husband and gorgeous son, making the most of that winterland paradise. Claire worked for us briefly in 2015 and after returning to work in Queenstown for 2 years, she discovered she missed the Mt Difficulty magic in her life and returned in March 2017 as our Restaurant Manager.
Greg Wilkinson (Regional Sales Manager) is here, there and everywhere! Sometimes found behind the tasting counter, other times outside on the terrace showing off the view, but also out on the roads around Central Otago talking to the trade. Greg is an enthusiastic host, and his newly-found passion for wine is only surpassed by his energetic contributions to the local community in his spare time.
Jacqui Rose-Anderson (Cellar Door Manager) worked in wine retail before she arrived at Mt Difficulty in 2003. She has been the first point of contact for our mailing list customers and members of 'The Pinot Club' and the 'Not-So-Difficult Wine Club' for many years, but these days shares that role with Mel. On Tuesdays you'll sometimes get her out of office message; she'll be on the Cromwell golf course.
Kaye Dons leaving Christchurch for the lifestyle of Central Otago saw Kaye join the team in May 2015. She has since made herself at home in the cellar door. She is a valuable addition with her witty charm and insightful knowledge of the wine trade. Kaye will make any trip to our cellar door full of laughs and fun.
Mel Carroll started working in the Cellar Door in April 2015 and she can be found both at the tasting counter and in the back office, looking after the wishes of our mail order customers. Mel also manages our Not-So-Difficult Wine Club.
Nicki McDonald came to the Cellar Door from the vineyards in 2007 and loves to talk viticulture with visitors to the tasting counter. Pipeclay Terrace was the first vineyard Nicki worked in and so it was a case of love at first sight when she first tasted Pipeclay Terrace Pinot Noir 2004. These days her first love is grand-daughter Marley, who Nicki looks after on her days off.
Sharyn Henderson has worked in the kitchen at Mt Difficulty since 2008, most recently on the platter and dessert station. Sharyn is the life and soul of the party, and having recently built a new home overlooking the lake, complete with 100m flying fox, she's got the perfect excuse to have the party at her place!
Vanessa Prentice Ness affectionately known as ‘mini me’ is originally a North Islander who is now thoroughly enjoying the Central Otago lifestyle. She joined us at Mt Difficulty in August 2016. When she’s not collecting pets you’ll find her in the cellar door sharing her wine knowledge and bubbly personality with everyone.
Werner Hecht-Wendt (Executive Chef) began at Mt Difficulty in early 2008, coming to us via restaurants at Nugget Point and Amisfield. His culinary focus is on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients; a keen gardener, he has established a small vegetable and herb garden at the Cellar Door. Werner loves to play golf but doesn't get out as often as he would like, which makes it a challenge to play to his 10 handicap!
Julie Richmond has been working at Mt Difficulty since February 2013. She is our Administration/Human Resource Manager, is accountable for smooth running of our office and is responsible for payroll, stock control and all month-end accounting processes. After hours Julie loves to bake along with tramping the hills of Central Otago.