We introduce Blanco y Rosso Wines, the much-anticipated venture from Jody Ames. Shall We Wine talks with Jody about what inspired her to establish an import company and the story behind one of Blanco y Rosso’s New Zealand imports, Dawn Chorus.

Founded with 23 years (+ counting) of industry experience and an insatiable passion for finding wines which embody a sense of place, Jody’s quest extends far beyond palate. The goal for the wines imported by Blanco y Rosso is to be especially representative of place, sustainable in every practice, and to embrace and incorporate as many women-led wineries as possible.

Take a journey of pleasure, taste, and community with a beautifully curated portfolio of niche, small production wines from her favorite countries—including New Zealand, Spain, and Italy.

A 1:1 With Jody

What is your goal with Blanco y Rosso?
I want to create a beautiful portfolio of wines that showcase the place where they are grown. In a delightful pursuit of vinicultural merit, my heartfelt aspiration is to curate a selection to introduce people to thoughtfully made wine. The wines I import transcend mere libations, but instead reflect the unwavering commitment to craftsmanship of each producer.

Over the last few years, what types of shifts have you seen in the way people purchase and/or enjoy wine?
I’ve definitely noticed a shift in preferences—people are less afraid to try different wines, boldly embracing wines from lesser-known regions. It warms my heart to witness this newfound curiosity. There’s this eagerness to learn, and their palates have evolved along with the appreciation for craftsmanship and terroir. I have also seen the average price point that consumers are buying at move up a price point. This could signify their growing curiosity and interest in having a deeper connection to the wine beyond just taste.

This trend of premiumization started during COVID-19 when going out was not an option. Many consumers opted to buy higher-priced wines knowing they were not spending money at a restaurant. The consumer has continually purchased at a higher price point for themselves since then, even with the reopening of restaurants.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception of wine or the wine industry?
The captivating world of the wine industry & sales is often perceived as an effortless, fun, and easy job. It can be, but you need to have the passion and dedication for it. Behind the scenes, countless long days and weekends go into selling just a single case. In this realm of abundance, the options are endless and no one technically needs your wine. You need to develop strong relationships with the gatekeepers. The essence of genuine connection is what brings it to the forefront; it’s as much of selling yourself as it is selling wine. Navigating this industry successfully demands building robust relationships!

What is your superpower?
Intuition. Learning to trust the feeling in the gut can be more beneficial than what is in your head. You need to be still and feel. Embracing that instinctive feeling can yield remarkable benefits beyond measure. And more often than not, my gut is correct.

Cheers! Jo Throp + Dawn Chorus Wines

Jo Throp entered the outskirts of the wine industry in Aotearoa New Zealand while working at Vidal Estate winery restaurant. After a four year stint at Otago University where she graduated with an honors degree in Classical Studies, she was working at Vidal Estate before heading overseas when she met the then cellar hand, now winemaker, Rod McDonald. And the rest is a 28 year long (and counting) history together.

Before Rod and Jo nestled in at Te Awanga Estate, Jo worked for Tourism New Zealand in the media and communication department in Wellington. But Hawke’s Bay and a winemaker beckoned so she returned to set up her own business, Muse Event Management + Communication, where the lion’s share of her work involved wineries, including organizing the Harvest Hawke’s Bay wine and food festival and the Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction. At Te Awanga Estate she dabbled in writing, branding, label design and social media, she also ran the wine club, cellar door events and was the finesser of all things wine.

Next stop is a new business, East Coast Trading Co., which is the umbrella company for some interesting labels being brought to life by Jo and Rod, including Dawn Chorus, an organic Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

“I love taking the brand you know inside out and giving it a distinct personality. Some of these brands were created at home, hand labeled at the kitchen table and dropped off in the family car to customers around Hawke’s Bay, so they are very personal to us,” says Jo.

“This is the same for our two new babies Dawn Chorus and Underground. There’s a lot of exciting work to do but the process has certainly begun as we kick off in America with an organic Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc – perhaps not what is expected over there, but definitely something to explore and enjoy on the other side of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.”

Find more info at:

Blanco y Rosso – https://www.blancoyrossowines.com

Dawn Chorus – https://eastcoasttrading.co.nz

Disclosure: Sample bottles of wines were received. Samples submitted to Shall We Wine are for review and thoroughly assessed before posting.