How the pair came to land in what they refer to as the ‘fruit basket’ of Nelson is an unlikely story. Jim fell in love with low intervention wine back in 2016 while studying viticulture and winemaking at NMIT in Blenheim. Following that, he travelled overseas and worked with organic farmers and producers of organic and wild fermented wines in South Australia, Italy, and Willamette Valley, Oregon. Lauren first found her place in craft beer by way of the hop industry, under hop breeding programs and alongside hop growers. She worked for several breweries in Portland, Oregon, and also worked several vintages, before starting Brood Fermentation.
"The Nelson Tasman boasts good soil, lots of sunshine, and grew grapes and hops alongside other fruits and nuts which we imagined incorporating into seasonal beers.”
Why Nelson? “We picked it off a map!” In late 2019 Jim and Lauren were living in Portland where Lauren was brewing for Migration Brewing and Jim was winemaking for Brooks Winery, when they casually contemplated either staying in the US, or heading to New Zealand to start their own project. “We’d collectively spent little time in Nelson but we knew the Nelson Tasman boasts good soil, lots of sunshine, and grew grapes and hops alongside other fruits and nuts which we imagined incorporating into seasonal beers,” they say. “The rest is history! We made the jump in January 2020 and are so happy we did.”
The name Brood Fermentation is a nod to Lauren’s interest in beekeeping. In apiculture the ‘brood’ is the area of the beehive where the eggs, larvae, and queen are. “We thought it was poetic that the brood is a place of nurturing and a designated safe space for growth, which we are still very much doing,” says Lauren. “‘Fermentation’ covers both beer and wine and whatever else we might choose to ferment in the future, so we felt it most appropriate for our project,” she adds. And so Brood Fermentation was born.
When asked why they decided to pursue both brewing and winemaking as opposed to one or the other, the pair point to their experience and passion in both crafts. “We feel we have something to bring to the table with both products. Brewers and winemakers operate on the same plane but have different approaches to fermentation. Producing both beer and wine allows us to become better and think more critically about our process and our products,” they say. Jim focuses his attention on farming their vineyard while Lauren focuses hers on the brewery, and they make the wine together, but they say “everything we do is a team effort.”
While the two crafts may at face value be at odds with one another, Lauren and Jim debunk this theory. “The beer and winemaking industries complement each other so well. It keeps things exciting for us, plus we have more product releases throughout the year as beer is often (though not always) a quicker product,” they say. “Getting to offer a full array of beverages is pretty fun too. Lagers, stouts, sours, whites, roses, and reds are all in our portfolio.”
“Being small keeps us involved in every process... The whole year our work is changing and engaging.”
The entrepreneurial couple say they love the diversity that comes with winemaking and viticulture. “Being small keeps us involved in every process. From pruning all through winter, spring shoot thinning, wire lifting and spraying, to fermenting, pressing and bottling. The whole year our work is changing and engaging.”
They both attribute some of their success to their network. “The support and transparency from the industry is great. We have really good relationships with people we work with, from packaging supplies to agriculture services. Other winemakers in Nelson have really helped us in our start-up phase – we’re so grateful to the growers and producers who lend a helping hand or words of advice. It’s a special part of this industry that we hope to pay forward someday.”
What’s next? “Soon we’ll be releasing new season wines including two new cuvees that are totally new to our portfolio. We’re also holding some wines back to age further in barrel with release set for July 2023.”