Meet our Winemaker

Meet our Winemaker


Meet our winemaker, Cairn Coghill. He did his first vintage at Sileni in 2008 and is now our Senior Winemaker. Find out what got Cairn into the wine game and what it is about Winemaking that keeps him creating great wines, year after year. 


Why did you become a winemaker?

It was the mixture of craft and science that drew me to it…and of course because I like to drink wine.


Where did you study to become a winemaker?

I originally went to study Vet Science at Massey University (following my father’s footsteps), but changed to Bio Process Engineering.  During this stint, I got my first real insight into the winemaking process and from there I discovered that Lincoln University did a Post Graduate diploma in Oenology and Viticulture. So after completing my engineering degree I relocated down to Christchurch to continue my study down there.


What is it you love about being a winemaker?

It is a craft.  Every vintage brings you a new challenge and new excitement.  It also has a great community around it, and the tie in with food (another passion) is a very big part for me.


What are the biggest challenges you face as a winemakers?

The weather!


What should people expect when they drink Sileni wines?

Consistent great quality and wines that are elegant and balanced.  And most importantly go well with food.


Sileni is based in the sub region of Bridge Pa. What is so special about the Bridge Pa Triangle as a wine growing region?

Bridge Pa sits on the Heretaunga Plains which benefits from being one of the warmest sub-regions in Hawke’s Bay, so very well suited to the warmer climate varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Semillon and Albarino.  The alluvial gravel soils in this sub-region are very old and mineral rich, which is what gives them their distinct red colouring and their name ‘red metals’.  It is this mineral richness which gives the wines elevated aromatics and fine structure.


You are the head of the Pinot Noir program for Booster Wine Group. What is it about making Pinot Noir that you love?

Because Pinot Noir has thinner skins than most other varieties, it can be more tricky to grow and therefore more challenging to make.  It is this challenge that makes it exciting and the reward of turning those grapes into a beautiful wine is what I love. 


How was the 2019 harvest? Was there a stand out grape variety that you are excited to release this vintage?

A dream vintage due to very little rainfall during the harvest period, which meant that each varietal could be picked at optimal ripeness.  All varietals from this vintage are going to be special. 


Sileni wines are all about matching great wines with great food. What is your favourite wine and food match and why?

The fantastic thing about Sileni is that we have lots of great wines, so a huge amount of wonderful food and wine combinations.  Too difficult to pick one!  Some of my favourites are Thai green curry with Advocate Albarino, woodfired pizza with Springstone Pinot Noir and slow roasted pork shoulder with Pacemaker Cabernet Franc.



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