23rd February, 2012 by Lucy Shaw
Former Craggy Range winemaker Rod Easthope is to make an exclusive range of wines for online retailer Naked Wines.
Funded by Naked and its 100,000 “Angel” customers, Easthope will also act as a consultant winemaker for other New Zealand producers working with Naked Wines.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to be my own boss, and the Naked Wines’ model is finally making that dream come true,” said Easthope.
“I’ve had a fantastic seven years at Craggy Range, but I’m really excited to join the Naked team and produce an exclusive range of wines under my own name – at scale.
“I know where the best grapes are hiding, and now I have the backing to put them to best use and share them with the UK public,” he added.
Easthope is leaving his full-time role as chief winemaker at iconic New Zealand winery Craggy Range at the end of May, but will continue to act as a consultant winemaker for the company.
“Rod is an immense talent and we’re delighted to be investing in such a big name,” said Naked Wines founder and chief executive Rowan Gormley.
“With our Angels investing over £2 million a month into the company, their reputation is spreading and we’ve got some exciting winemakers knocking on our door,” Gormley added.
Easthope’s first two Naked wines, a Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc and a Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris, are expected to go on sale in the UK in October.
He also plans to make Pinot Noir from Marlborough and Central Otago.
Easthope grew up working on vineyards in the Dartmoor Valley in Hawkes Bay.
He studied for a wine science degree at Roseworthy College in South Australia, and then learnt his craft with stints in Australia, South Africa, Italy and France.