For Rachael Carter, the founder of SOHO wines, wine is most definitely in her DNA. Following in the footsteps of her vintner father (her mentor), she went from owning a company that manufactured nearly all of the country’s wine screw-caps, to setting up her own wine label.
A little bit like its founder, SOHO wines, is oozing with character and personality. Its inspiration comes from the vibrant Soho district in New York City, with a little bit of Tom Ford and some Alexander McQueen thrown in for good measure. There’s also a good dose of girl power fuelling this wine label. Rachael says that SOHO is very much a team effort and her team of six fabulous women are very passionate and incredibly loyal about the brand and their clients.
We caught up with her to find out where it all began and to discuss the launch of her latest release, Pink Sheep, a rosé that is helping to tackle mental illness.
When was SOHO founded and how did it all come about?
I previously owned a company that manufactured wine screw-caps for 97 percent of wineries in New Zealand. At that time, my father – who had his own vineyards in Waiheke and Marlborough – was involved with a winery that more or less dropped him in it and decided not to take his fruit. The planets came into alignment and I decided to sell my business, take all of Dad’s grapes from his vineyards and to launch my own wine brand. A year later, I launched SOHO wines.
Your newest wine is much more than just a rosé, can you tell us about it?
I’m particularly excited about our new rosé Pink Sheep because with its release we are donating 50¢ per bottle sold worldwide (to support mental health, in New Zealand) in partnership with the Key to Life charitable trust. We are big Alexander McQueen fans and he always referred to himself as the Pink Sheep in his family. He suffered with mental illness and took his life – he really was my main inspiration behind the name and we thought the mental health charity was the perfect match in more ways than one. Within my family, we’ve also had issues with mental illness and it’s an issue that’s really close to my heart.
All of the vineyards are family owned, has wine always been in your family?
My father has always been involved in the wine industry. He owned a company that produced everything a winemaker needs to make and package wine, such as corks, barrels and caps. In the year 2000, he sold his company and partially reinvested in vineyards, including one on Waiheke and three in Marlborough. We use these vineyards and contract out to about another dozen small family-owned vineyards. We have amazing growers.
You work with a number of different regions. Do you have a favourite or do you have some favourite characteristics about each region you want to share?
I love all three regions but my heart is with Waiheke. We own the second-largest vineyard on Waiheke and have a family holiday home at the top of the vineyard above the Waiheke Golf Course. We don’t have a cellar door, but that is something we would love to do one day.
What makes SOHO Wines unique?
Our packaging and marketing is very Tom Ford inspired: modern, sleek and slightly risqué. We like to push the boundaries of traditional wine packaging and marketing and stand out from the crowd. We also have three winemakers from three different wine regions, individually giving each wine its own distinctive regional personality and premium style. We have fantastic growers and I believe this combination of outstanding grapes and three of the country’s best winemakers is a recipe for success. In only seven years, SOHO has won 60 gold medals, and at the most prestigious wine competition in the world – the London International Wine Challenge – we took out the double trophy for the Best Pinot Noir in NZ.
What’s your favourite wine memory?
My dad was the biggest supplier to the NZ wine industry and he and Mum had a dinner party for the top 12 winemakers and winery owners in NZ. I was just a kid but I remember this was when I first fell in love with wine and thought how cool it would be to have my own wine brand. I loved the way these winemakers, who were top in their field, never rinsed their glasses and they showed zero signs of wine snobbery; they had a real passion for wine and having fun. I hope my brand in some way reflects these stoic cool cats at my folks’ dinner party, where my love of wine first started.
SOHO Stella Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – already a triple Gold medal recipient. Aromas of elderflower, gooseberry, passionfruit & lime with beautiful mineral lasting finish. $18.99
SOHO Jagger Pinot Gris 2017 – Dry in style, this elegant wine has a hint of pear drop, mineral notes and a lovely spicy, mandarin peel finish. $19.99
SOHO Pink Sheep Rosé 2017 – 5 stars Raymond Chan! Aromatic, dry & delicious – 50c per bottle donated to our nominated mental health charity- visit www.sohowineco.com/pink. $25.99
SOHO Havana Pinot Noir 2015 – Judged #1 Pinot Noir in NZ at the world’s finest wine competition – the London International Wine Challenge, 2 trophies & 4 golds .. the Havana is smokin! $36.99