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Our People Kathryn Pettit Andrew Debbie Mark Zoe
David and Sir Cliff Skeggs in the Winery

David Skeggs - Akarua & Skeggs Group Managing Director

David Skeggs (pictured above with Sir Clifford Skeggs) is the Managing Director of Skeggs Group Ltd which has interests in the maritime, seafood, tourism, wine and property industries. These investments are either directly owned or with joint venture partners.

David is a director on a number of private sector boards and is the chairman of directors of Barnes Oysters Ltd, Bluff Oyster Management Ltd and Port Denarau Marina Ltd a public company listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange.

David has extensive experience in all facets of business management including general management, operations, sales and marketing and financial. David graduated Otago University with Law and Commerce degrees in 1985 and then joined a chartered accountancy firm before becoming the financial manager for McConnell Group Ltd. He joined the family business in 1989 working in a variety of roles before becoming managing director. He is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

There has always been a family interest in wine and David’s father Sir Clifford Skeggs was one of the initial investors in the Central Otago wine industry due to his love for wine and the region. David took over direct responsibility for overseeing his family’s investment in Central Otago at Akarua in 2008 and since then the company has been restructured with the goal of becoming one of New Zealand’s leading Pinot Noir producers.

General Manager Kathryn Pettit

Kathryn Pettit - Akarua General Manager

Kathryn has an impressive 25-year career within the wine industry, with extensive experience in commercial disciplines working for dominant global companies such as Montana Wines and Pernod Ricard.

Kathryn has brought these skills to Akarua and led the company through considerable multifaceted progression; the purchase and development of new vineyards, extensive brand development strategy, plus significant sales growth both domestically and internationally.

Kathryn’s experience of the growing importance of international wine tourism led her to the conception and launch of Akarua’s showcase Restaurant and Tasting Shed in Arrowtown. The success of this move underscores her understanding of the significance of “wine and food experiences” in shaping the profile and reputation of a brand and region.

Kathryn finely balances the pressures and commercial realities of managing a winery in Central Otago; while protecting the family history and integrity of the region. In the current context of rapid industry changes and challenges, Kathryn continues to steer Akarua in an insightful and dynamic direction, to remain a highly respected, benchmark producer in Central Otago.

Akarua Winemaker Andrew Keenleyside

Andrew Keenleyside - Akarua Winemaker

Akarua Winemaker Andrew Keenleyside has seen eleven vintages at Akarua, five of those as Head Winemaker managing Akarua’s 550 tonne winery and rapid growth of the estate to include 82 different vineyard parcels over two subregions.

During his time, Andrew has sensitively and intuitively developed increased usage of whole bunch and wild ferments, bringing a further structured, textural framework to the locally beloved Akarua style. Every vintage Akarua pinot noirs receive trophies; recently, the 2015 Kolo winning 2018 Six Nations, and 2017 RUA Pinot Noir winning 2019 Sydney International. Additionally Andrew’s sparkling wines made in partnership with the late Dr Tony Jordan, receive consistent critical acclaim and were ranked No 1 and 2 by Cuisine Magazine in 2019.

Andrew’s winemaking experience spans Mosel, Napa Valley and Oregon and includes early years as a Vineyard Manager giving him a broad perspective not only on international wine style, but also the significance of vineyard balance and health. Andrew’s attention to detail is painstaking and meticulous - all decisions from parcel picking dates through lengths of macerations, and final blends across hundreds of barrels are done on his highly calibrated palate. Despite the increasingly erratic Central Otago growing seasons and the challenging diversity of Akarua’s vineyard parcels, Andrew’s wide-reaching knowledge and experience has enabled Akarua to achieve unmatched consistency at an extraordinarily high level of quality, while still over-delivering on value for their dedicated followers. Although his shy and humble nature would preclude him from admitting, he has become a valued local resource and mentor to wide-eyed young wine-makers visiting the region.

Andrew was nominated for "New Zealand Winemaker of the Year" by Gourmet Traveller, in 2020.

Viticulturist Mark Naismith

Mark Naismith - Akarua Viticulturist

Mark Naismith became involved in the wine industry in the arid alpine region of Central Otago in 2002, and was an integral part of the development of vineyards in the Bendigo subregion.

Mark has extensive experience across Gibbston Valley, Pisa, Bannockburn and Cromwell Basin; three years on an organic and biodynamic property; plus seven years managing the expansion of Akarua from 50 to 130 hectares including vineyard conversion to organics. He is considered a viticultural resource and has spoken widely on organics and sustainable winegrowing in New Zealand. Mark is regarded locally as a vine whisper and weather diviner – his early decisions based on careful observations in the vineyards have time and again proved crucial to the success of difficult seasons.

Direct Sales Manager Deborah Adams

Debbie Adams - Akarua Direct Sales & Export Manager

Irish-born Debbie Adams has worked for the past seven years in marketing, sales & business development specifically for the wine industry.

After graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Business in Ireland, her adventurous spirit led the move to New Zealand in December 2012. While working amongst the stunning vineyard landscapes of Blenheim, Debbie realised her love for the wine industry.

Debbie started as a marketing assistant with Akarua in 2013 and shortly after, gained her WSET level 2 certification in Queenstown. She went on to diversify her skills and gain further experience in the wine business by acting as Business Development Manager for Prophet’s Rock for several years.

She is back in the newly created role of Direct Sales Manager for Akarua Wines as of 2019. Debbie is the face of Akarua's Wine Club, Direct Sales and Cellar Door. Her background in marketing and passion for all things digital is steering Akarua in a new consumer-focused direction.

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