Sommelier Michael Bancks of Terroir at Craggy Range Winery - Biography

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

May 2010

A childhood in Brittany in the Northwest of France gave Michael Bancks an early, and profound, understanding of food and wine, not only as a sublime gustatory experience but as a means of bringing friends and family together. “My motto is live to eat, rather than eat to live,” says Bancks. And he brings that spirit to his career in hospitality, which began while he was still at school and working in cafes along the North shore of Auckland, New Zealand. His career path wasn’t immediately cemented; Bancks studied for a bachelor of health sciences at university, all the while working at Hammerheads restaurant and growing accustomed to the rhythms of hospitality. Bancks might have eventually left the restaurant without delving any deeper into wine, but when Hammerheads competed in the Corbans Food and Wine Challenge, Bancks made the important acquaintance of competition judge and restaurant owner Prue Barton. After witnessing Banck’s excellent service, Barton offered him a job. Two years working at Vinnie’s restaurant led to two more years working at Halo, where Bancks got to participate from the ground up. And when Barton and her partner opened Terroir at Craggy Range, Bancks was a natural fit. The restaurant’s focus on wine and hospitality resonated with Bancks, whose increasingly sensitive palate and ability to teach and learn made him an apt sommelier. Bancks has pursued his sommelier studies avidly, earning a Wither Hills Winery scholarship that will take him through the levels of certification necessary to become a Master Sommelier; in 2009, he was one of five students to pass the Advanced Sommelier examination. In 2008 Bancks was voted New Zealand Sommelier of the Year at the New Zealand Culinary Fare, and it’s likely this isn’t the last major award we’ll see for Bancks.