Epcot Wine Demonstrations – Croney Estates, New Zealand


Presented by – Greg Crone


We enjoyed Greg so much yesterday at our Culinary Demonstration that we signed up on the spot for his wine school. Greg is with Liquid Brands and is the vintner and owner of Croney Estates. There were three wines at today’s presentation: Croney Three Ton Sauvignon Blanc, Cigar Box Sauvignon Blanc, and Croney Two Ton Pinot Noir.

When we were seated, we were a bit surprised to see a packet of crackers instead of a basket – wow! 2 crackers each – but by now Nora’s prepared, we also had dry roasted almonds.


Greg started by appointing a time keeper to make sure that he didn’t talk too long (that would be a pleasant change, someone who was so enthusiastic that he talks too much). He stressed to the guests that this isn’t a dog-and-pony show, that it’s meant to be interactive! He wants to talk with us, not at us!

He managed to get two slides loaded before the seminar… when we all clapped, Greg joked “two slides and I get applause!”

He began with some geography (the slides) and some basic information about New Zealand (appreciated because most of us knew very little about that country). New Zealand is two islands – North Island and South Island (those New Zealanders aren’t too creative in their naming are they) AND the islands have a West Coast and an East Coast! New Zealand looks close to Australia on the map, but in actuality, it’s a 3 hour jet flight from New Zealand to Australia. Both are located in the southern hemisphere, unlike America that’s located in the northern hemisphere – thus everything is backwards down there – maybe it’s just to screw with jet lagged Americans?


So, how does New Zealand differ from Australia?

  • Australia is a continent and New Zealand is “islands”
  • Australia has a hotter climate and New Zealand has a cooler climate
  • Australian grapes thus have thicker skins and New Zealand grapes have thinner skins – this, of course, influences the kinds of wine from each – Australian wines are not like New Zealand wines
    • for example… Australia has shiraz and New Zealand has Sauvignon Blanc
  • Australia has a population of 45,000,000 people and New Zealand has a population of 3,000,000 people and 75,000,000 sheep!
  • also, the people in New Zealand choose to live there! (Australia was originally a penal colony)

When the weather approaches New Zealand it first passes over Australia, while there it loses moisture, but it picks up moisture while crossing all that ocean. When it gets to New Zealand and crosses over the west coast, it’s heavy wet weather, it hits the New Zealand mountains and dumps the water. Thus grapes are grown on the east coast of NZ, not on the west coast (it’s just too wet and there isn’t anything there but jungle and bugs).

There are three major grape growing regions in New Zealand that account for 97% of the wines. Hastings and Grisbane account for about 50% of that, but we’re not likely to see those wines outside of New Zealand. Marlborough produces the other 50% of that – these are the wines we’re likely to see. At present there are about 900 wineries in New Zealand, when Greg started his winery there were fewer than 2 dozen wineries.

So, he’s told us that New Zealand grows thinner skinned grapes and that wines get a lot of their flavor and aroma (their essence) from the grape skins. The thinner skins also mean that the grapes ripen quickly – growing grapes isn’t just about getting grapes ripe – it’s about getting them to ripen as slowly as possible – you want to leave them on the vine until the last possible day. So what kinds of thin skinned grapes is Greg talking about? Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir wines.

Greg made a comparison…

Apples, yes apples. Think about California grown apples and Washington state grown apples. California apples are big and pretty and rather tasteless/doughy – they get more warmth and they grow more rapidly. Washington state apples are small and not so pretty and crisp and fully flavored – they grow in a cool climate and they grow more slowly.

On to the tastings…


Croney Three Ton Sauvignon Blanc

  • (we had this wine yesterday)
  • produces about 2000 cases per year



  • nick: doesn’t smell much like wine; maybe its a lemongrass scent
  • nora: the first whiff is grassy and acidic, after a quick almond the scents become less acidic


  • nick: bitter, Greg says that the acidity in the wine cleans the palette; too acidic for me; it was “okay” with food yesterday but still not something I’d want to drink
  • nora: still very acidic to me; tastes better after a dry roasted almond; not likely to order this anywhere & it’s not because of this particular vintage, I think I just prefer reds

Cigar Box Sauvignon Blanc

  • 4 tons/acre
  • fermented until it’s bone dry
  • the name “Cigar Box” comes from the fact that he leases about 70 acres in Argentina for grape growing and the wines from those acres, reds, are called “Cigar Box” and he wanted a Sauvignon Blanc to go with that line


  • nick: a slightly sweeter smell than the previous wine?
  • nora: aroma at first was smoother, fuller, less “metallic — as it sat, the aromas really changed and it became metallic and acidic


  • nick: yuck… Greg says that there’s not a single gram of sugar left in this wine, he makes it BONE DRY; Greg suggests lime and bell pepper flavors … again, yuck
  • nora: too tart and acidic; don’t like this one

Croney Two Ton Pinot Noir

  • Pinot Noir is like silk and Merlot is like velvet
  • about 400 cases per year
  • some people taste/smell vulcanized rubber with this style of wine


  • nick: smells like wine; but still light with maybe some spice smell
  • nora: yum at first; later I smelled tannins and damp earth and rubber


  • nick: tastes like burnt rubber smells; wow! he said burnt rubber… really? this is supposed to be good?
  • nora: this is okay, but I liked the Pinot Noir we had earlier better

Nick – Didn’t really like any of the wines. I tasted them all again and left at least half of each tiny pour. I simply must not be a wine drinker.

Nora – I preferred the red over the whites. I must just be a red wine girl and not a white wine girl.

Both – although we didn’t like the wines, we VERY MUCH enjoyed Greg’s humor and his presentation overall. He really wanted to make sure that the guest enjoyed themselves and that we learned something. Thank you!

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