Owner / Managing Director
John can turn his hand to most things. Raised in Southland and, after working in the coal mines and a stint shearing sheep, he shifted North to Marlborough and was an early pioneer in growing and exporting green lip mussels. A childhood dream was realised when John purchased several waterside properties in Spring Creek, Dillon’s Point and Rapaura, ideal for growing apples. The family grew apples and operated the largest apple pack house and export operation in the region. After apples, the Neylon family converted the orchards into vineyards and built a state of the art winery. The Rapaura property became the family home, bordering a beautiful natural Spring which served as the inspiration for Rapaura Springs.These days you’ll usually find John working on the land, in a digger or driving his big yellow dump truck. John likes to tell everybody he got ‘kicked out of the office’ a few years back but we know he loves being outside and doesn’t want to drive a computer for a living!
Owner / Marketing Director
Brendan grew up in Marlborough, enjoying the long hot summers and the freedom to roam the wide open spaces. Brendan is a former world class cyclist, representing New Zealand at the Junior World Champs a few years back and lived and raced in the USA where he developed a taste for wine in the early 90’s. Brendan was involved in the family mussel and apple businesses and was instrumental in the transition to the wine industry. Father to three young girls, he loves kayaking (ask him about how he kayaked the Cook Strait one day) and mountain biking.He’ll reach for a classic New Zealand Pinot Noir, a ristretto or a decent chocolate brownie, not necessarily in that order (or together!)
Owner / Finance Director
General Manager of Viticulture and Winemaking
Sales & Marketing Manager
Mark’s introduction to wine started while working in Australia in the mid 90’s, enjoying the odd Coonawarra Red. At the time, his family was establishing a wine business in Marlborough, being one of the first to plant grapes in the Awatere Valley. When called upon to help the family business, he returned from living in the USA and was thrown into harvest duties in 2005. After initially demolishing a vineyard trellis with a tractor, he got the hang of wine growing and learnt the ropes from the ground up. Following the sale of the family wine business, he worked for a couple of well-known Marlborough brands before jumping at the chance to work for Rapaura Springs.In his spare time he enjoys the outdoor lifestyle Marlborough offers, tinkering with his (un-reliable) 40 year old Landy and spending time with his Texan wife, 3 school aged daughters and a mad English bulldog. Mark enjoys a Pilsner (plenty of hops) and will opt for a Chardonnay or a Riesling given the chance.
Originally from Australia, Michael developed his passion for wine at a young age whilst growing up in the family retail liquor business. This gave him the opportunity to taste some top shelf wines and meet some influential winemakers at an early age. After high school the studied winemaking and worked stints in both Australia and France. He came to New Zealand for a Kiwi vintage in 2006 and met his (now) wife Hayley with whom he has three children. Passionate about wine, Marlborough and developing varieties and styles in the region, Michael has embraced Marlborough and it’s laid back nature, hospitality and the opportunity to make first class wines in one of the best regions in the world.Michael is a wine judge with experience at all the major New Zealand wine competitions
Master of Wine
Sam Harrop MW specialises in bridging the divide between the technical and complex world of wine making and the consumer’s appreciation of the end product. With over 20 years in the international wine industry his experience is diverse: From creating profitable wine ranges for UK retailer Marks and Spencer, to consulting for small and medium sized wineries around the world; judging and co-chairing the International Wine Challenge in London to providing incisive technical guidance for Lallemand Oenology and their customers. The common thread has been a singular focus on improving wine quality and value for consumers, whilst helping to make the world of wine more accessible to them.
Sam holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a post-graduate diploma in Oenology, and became one of the youngest Masters of Wine, after passing on his first attempt in 2002. He has featured in both the trade and consumer press in the UK and around the world as a key wine industry commentator, and in 2011 he co-authored the book ‘Authentic Wine’ with Jamie Goode, focusing on concepts of naturalness and sustainability in winemaking. Sam currently makes his own wine in New Zealand, as well as working with Rapaura Springs (rising star of the Marlborough wine scene), Peninsula Wines (a dynamic Spanish winemaking group based in Madrid), Lallemand Oenology, Sky City Restaurant Group and Air New Zealand.
Matt knew he wanted to be a winemaker from a very early age – 16 in fact. At this time he was already collecting and stashing cases of wine under his bed. Bordeaux, Burgundy, and anything of worldly repute which his pocket money could reasonably enable him to possess were searched for and gathered. Accompanying this avid collecting was Matt’s voracious thirst for knowledge: bedtime reading consisted of Parker’s Bordeaux volumes, and when the time for tertiary education dawned on him he fashioned his own degree to suit a career as an oenologist.
Aside from the prodigious array of accolades Matt has received for his own wines, a professional highpoint in Matt’s career was winning International White Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Competition in 2008. His expertise and success in winemaking extend across an array of varieties with a particular strength in Sauvignon Blanc. Experience consulting in modern winery design and build projects and interests in vineyards and wine companies both in Marlborough and in Italy introduce a genuine reality check about what the wine industry entails.