If you were at Game of Rhones Auckland last year, you might have noticed a young woman dressed as Daenerys carrying a tiny bird around on her shoulder. Jade will be back at this year’s Rhones event, with her parrot, Pablo Escobird, in tow. We caught up with her ahead of the day to talk all things GoR.  

Tell us your wine story! Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Jade Wilkes, i’m 25, I was born in the UK, I work at Ray White Kohimarama and I’m a wine enthusiast. I have been living overseas for over three years and have been lucky enough to visit wine regions all over Australia and New Zealand. In summer, you will usually find me over on Waiheke Island, lounging on a bean bag, wine in hand and parrot on shoulder.

What enticed you to Game of Rhones?

Wine + Game of Thrones + Fancy Dress + Yummy food… Need I say more? Oh and it is dragon (parrot) friendly!

What’s your favourite thing about it?

The best thing about Game of Rhones is being able to mix with like-minded people and try a variety of different wines from all over the world in one place. I love that there are no pesky tokens, just one glass with unlimited tastings!

Do you G, S or M?

All three! I am partial to a GSM as I love big, bold spicy reds. My preference would be a GSM or Aussie Shiraz – specifically from the Barossa Valley.

Tell us your (battle) plan for approaching a tasting of over 100 Rhone-style wines?

I plan on starting the day with a hearty breakfast consisting of poached eggs, bacon and avocado. This will ensure I am in tip top form for a long day wearing my wine connoisseur hat. I like to make my way around all of the wineries being careful not to miss any wineries, or forget to drink water! It is important to make notes of any favourite wines so I can come back to them later on – my memory isn’t very reliable on the best of days, let alone with wine in the mix.

I always like to chat to the wine makers to find out what makes them unique and hear their story. Some of my favourite questions to ask are:

  • How long have they been operating and how did they start the winery?
  • Are they a boutique winery? If so, how many cases of wine do they produce?
  • What grape varieties do they specialise in?
  • Are the vines artificially irrigated, do they produce any organic wines?
  • Do they recommend cellaring any of their wines, or are they ready to drink?
  • Are there any noticeable differences between the vintages of wine they have available?
  • What barrels are used to age the wine? E.g. oak or steel.
If you were a Game of Thrones character, who would you be and why? 

Ayra Stark. She’s strong, clever, ambitious, enraged, and just a general B.A.

“What do we say to the God of Death? Not today.”

What do you drink when no one is watching?

My regular night cap – Scotch whisky with a single cube of ice.

What are your top 3 picks to try at Game of Rhones?

Craggy Range and Man O’ War Vineyards (it produces my favourite Pinot Gris called Exiled), both from NZ. Yalumba from Australia.

Follow Pablo’s adventures here:


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