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Great Times

In the Blood Giesen's Love of Food & Wine


If you were to give Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen a health check, the likelihood is that you would find wine running through their veins and food embedded in their DNA.

The link begins with the brothers’ grandfather August (Aw-goost) Giesen a sommelier, restaurateur, hotel owner and lover of all things fine in life.

With his smart suits, love of steak tartare and passion for Mosel – the dry German Riesling that was his favourite wine – August was a legend in his native Germany. This was especially true during his time running Berlin’s popular Emperor’s Court Hotel serving the finest wines and spirits sourced from his European tasting trips.

August’s son Kurt, – Theo, Alex and Marcel’s father – was introduced to high cuisine at an early age. After working at banquet dinners, August would bring home the finest leftover cuisine for little Kurt to enjoy in his highchair.

By the time Kurt was a teenager August owned Berlin’s Emperor’s Court Hotel which he stocked with the finest European wines and spirits. Despite August marking each bottle with a pencil after it was poured, temptation was too much for young Kurt and his friends. Intrigued by how the finest of Europe tasted, Kurt sneakily shared ‘tastings’ with his friends. Because the teen boys figured a little clear schnapps poured after a sampling restored the liquid to the pencil line, August was none the wiser.

In turn, Kurt passed on the Giesen love of food and wine to his three sons, Theo, Alex and Marcel. Growing up in Germany’s Neustadt-Pfalzer wine region, once under French rule, the brothers enjoyed French cuisine as well as traditional hunted and farmed meat dishes from their mother’s Bavarian heritage.

Inspired by the adventures he had travelling Europe with his father, Kurt took his family on European holidays and encouraged his sons to travel. It was at Kurt’s prompting that Theo and Alex found themselves travelling the world, ending up in New Zealand.

So in 1981 on the bottom of the world, in a country that at the time had little wine choice and none of the grape varietals they knew, the Giesen brothers channeled the adventurous spirit of their grandfather August and decided to make their own wine.

As well as having attuned taste buds Theo, Alex and Marcel are all excellent cooks. Theo attended his first cookery class in Germany when he was 15 and these days his favourite inspiration is Arabic flavour blended with western ingredients. However, Theo bestows the mantle of ‘best Giesen chef’ on Marcel who built his own wood fire pizza oven long before they were the fashion. The trio each say their best form of relaxation is cooking for a group of family and friends then enjoying conversation, flavour and a great wine.

The Giesen brothers’ story is founded on good food, fine wines and warm hospitality and now their wines allow other families to create their own stories founded on the same principles.

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August Giesen with his two sons. Kurt Giesen is Theo, Alex & Marcel's father.

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