Time With
Dan Gillett

Everyday Wine


Time With
Dan Gillett

Dan Gillett

You are also Co-owner of Everyday Wine and Clay Wine Bar where wine on tap is a huge part of what you do, tell us more.

Wine on tap, or keg wine, has easily become the most popular part of what we do and there’s good reason for it too. At a bar or restaurant, it basically means you’ll never taste an oxidised or tired natural wine ever again. The wines are packaging-free, kept in an inert system free from oxygen, and can be poured without any waste whatsoever. There are a number of bars and restaurants with this setup in place now, but right now at Everyday Wine we are the only ones in the country to offer this at a retail level.

If you could only drink one type of wine for the rest of your life what would it be?

My favourite variety is Savagnin. Not Sauvignon (Blanc), but Savagnin, a variety most commonly found in the Jura. The Jura is mountainous dairy country out to the East of France, so far East you’re almost in the Swiss Alps. It comes in a wide range of styles, from dry and fresh through to rich, nutty and oxidative. For me, it’s the most unique and transcendental wine in the world. A glass of Savagnin can send you right there.

Dan wears Two Pocket Field Shirt in Seersucker while transporting empty wine kegs.

Tell us about your first experience with natural wine.

My introduction to natural wine came in 2014 when I had recently taken over a run-down, failing wine bar in Blenheim, Marlborough. My sister, Lauren, who is a winemaker had moved to Australia to work for famous Pinot Noir maker William Downie, and it was when I visited her and tried some of the wines that were popular over there at the time that I became hooked. I remember drinking a 2011 Ochota Barrels ‘Fugazi’ Grenache and I was totally blown away by what I was tasting, the smell, the flavour and the texture were totally unlike any Grenache, or any red wine I had ever encountered. I brought a few bottles back and shared them with customers at the bar, after trying they were just as excited as me.

You are clearly passionate about what you do, what is it about natural wine that you love so much?

I love natural wine for its ability to translate the place it came from. When you drink a well made natural wine it should speak of what variety it is, when and where it was grown (in what soils, at what altitude, and so on) and how it was made. When you drink wines like these they are totally unique to that vineyard, that vintage and that wine alone. Meaning it’s something that can’t be replicated or reproduced, and I think that’s pretty special.

The people you get to meet along the way and the places you get to go are pretty incredible too.

Dan wears Two Pocket Field Shirt in Seersucker and Bound T-shirt in Bone.

Do the values you love about natural wine translate into other aspect of your life?

I think about this a lot actually, and often compare what I consume to what I do for a living. With Wine Diamonds we really try to support small, independent, organic producers who make something authentic, unique, and real. I try to do the same across every aspect of my life.

For me it’s the authenticity of having something designed and made by a small independent producer. It’s so easy to consume without thinking these days, in clothing especially, so the idea of buying better, but less often, totally resonates with me.

Are there any future releases you are looking forward to?

I generally have our releases planned six months to a year ahead, so we have a whole bunch in the works. The thing I am most stoked about right now is seeing ‘Big Fizz’ in bottle, it’s a sparkling rosé field blend from Margaret River. After that it’s my friend's wines ‘Vino di Anna’ from Mt Etna in Sicily. These wines were originally due here in November, so I can’t wait!

Best food and wine pairing for you?

Skin-contact (orange) wine together with fried chicken will always be a winner for me. The texture of orange wine works incredibly well with richer food.

A view from inside Everyday Wine, located on Auckland’s Karagahape Road.

How did your pursuit for natural wine for your wine bar turned into what is now called Wine Diamonds?

I wanted to have more of these wines in New Zealand, but I had no means to start a distribution company (it takes a lot more money than you might think!). A few months later Australian winemaker, Patrick Sullivan, came to visit Marlborough, along with fellow winemaker, Tom Shobbrook. They showed up late on a Wednesday evening to a small town called Blenheim, with no accommodation booked. I let them stay at mine for a few days, and they offered to give me a hand putting an Australian portfolio together if I wanted to take things further.

A couple months later I visited Australia again, getting a guided tour of Victoria and South Australia from Patrick and Tom, and met a whole bunch of producers at their vineyards. Patrick and Tom suggested I meet their Japanese distributors, one Kiwi and one Aussie, who were doing amazing things over there, and that maybe one day they might want to do something in New Zealand too. A week later I flew to Japan, met with them, and we founded Wine Diamonds in November 2015.

What are some tips you would suggest when picking out that next bottle?

I try and look for wines that are organic, estate-grown, from smaller producers, and are made in a way that retains the authenticity of where it came from and how it came to be. I’d recommend visiting any decent independent wine store and telling them what you like to drink.

Ask for help. Don’t fly blind.