James Leary - Co-Founder & Vigneron

James Leary describes himself as Vigneron at Ward Valley Estate in southern Marlborough. A French word which means a person who is closely linked to the vine, there couldn’t be a more apt description of James, who is bucking the trend with high-quality pinot noir, in a region renowned for its sauvignon blanc.

James Leary and business partner Freddy Davison set up Ward Valley Estate in 2008 with an initial planting of six hectares of pinot noir. The pair have just embarked on another four hectares – 3 more of pinot noir and their first chardonnay – taking them to maximum capacity for the vineyard.


Freddy Davison - Co-Founder

Freddy, a 4th generation South Islander, searched for the perfect vineyard site around his home in the lower Awatere Valley and found a unique terroir in Ward. He convinced James to join him on the journey to start the Ward Valley vineyard in 2018, and the pair have worked hard to develop the vineyard into what it is today. Freddy’s family have worked the land for three generations, giving them an intimate knowledge and understanding of the region and its unique climate.


Mark Allen - Viticulturist

Mark is a well-known personality in the Marlborough wine industry. He brings a wealth of practical vineyard knowledge to the team and has consistently and expertly improved the vines and condition of the fruit harvested.


Corey Hall - Winemaker

Corey grew up around the beaches, orchards and vineyards of West Auckland. After gaining a BSC at the University of Auckland Corey went on to the University of Adelaide and gained a Graduate Diploma in Oneology. Corey has worked as a winemaker in Australia, France, California and in New Zealand at Matua Valley Wines (where he worked for 10 years, rising to the position of Chief Winemaker).

In addition to winemaking, Corey spends time judging both in NZ and Australia. He has spoken regularly on sponsored radio shows and has been promoted by his peers to the position of Senior Judge, judging at the New Zealand International Wine Show and has been Senior Judge and Panel Chair at the Australian Small Winemakers Show.


Michael Davison - Vineyard Manager

Michael brings a wealth of local knowledge having developed over 100 ha of vines in the Marlborough region and raising his family in the Awatere Valley. After forging a career on the back of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, he’s found it fascinating to develop a viticultural site such as Ward Valley that specialises in the production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.