Tales of people, wine, travel and other adventures...

It started with a hand print…

It started with a hand print and the deal was sealed with a hand shake this year when winemakers Ben Glover and Ryan Wardman (left to right) bought Seresin winery from cinematographer Michael Seresin…

The hand print is Michael Seresin’s and it’s on the massive greeting stone at the front of Seresin Vineyard, four kilometres west of Renwick, in Marlborough. The hand print also appears on the front label of Seresin’s wines, which will continue to be made on a small scale, going forward.

Glover and Wardman plan to use the winery to make small batch wines that show quirky and diverse flavours and styles. They take over the winery on 1 May and have already chosen a new name – The Coterie, which means a small group of friends with shared interests.

Glover co-owns the Zephyr wine brand with his brother, Jack, so these wines will be made in The Coterie. As will the wines of clients that both Glover and Wardman will offer their services to from the 2019 vintage.

Watch this space.

If you want something you’ve never had… do something

I’m trying to follow my own mantra: “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

So after years of clinging to my own internalised myth that writers and wine writers especially, are often owls, who drink late into the night or the early hours of the morning, then struggle to get out of bed, I am changing my ways… partly due to reaching my own, internal, anxiety-ridden crisis last week.

Part of this was brought on by the so-called empty nest syndrome. I never believed it. Then my daughter left home last year, unexpectedly. Boom. It turns out it is true. It is a thing. And I suffered from it big time, pulling everyone else around me into a tailspin too.

Is it selfish to indulge in feelings of loss? Perhaps it depends how you indulge those feelings, but loss creates an unavoidable sense of grief, sometimes overwhelmingly. And so I indulged in the sense of loss last year, only waking up from its trance a week or so back, in shock realisation that I had dragged others around me along for the painful ride, including one person in particular who was trying his best to support and offer positive alternative suggestions of how to spend my time other than wallowing in the sense of loss. Much as I regret now that I dragged him along for the ride, I have started a ride of a different type.

Last week I began to cycle regularly. My first was 10 kms, the next day it was 24 kms and then it was 12 kms. Tomorrow, who knows?

This weekend it will be GrapeRide in Marlborough, along with about 1600 other bikers from serious cyclists to enthusiastic wannabes (me). I’ll do  the taster course, which is 42km ride. Hardly a cause for breaking out the champagne, but it is a great replacement for over nurturing those around me. Exercise is one of the best replacement activities in the world.

And it’s not wine.

Well, at least not until the end of the ride… Then it is very much wine.

This is an apology to those who bore the brunt of my slump in the second half of last year – I am sorry and, more importantly, I have snapped out of it, at last.

As for the wine at the end of the day, well, that’s another habit I’ve changed, but that’s another story.

Forrest GrapeRide

The annual Forrest GrapeRide began in 2005 in Blenheim, and was the brainchild of Dr John Forrest and Dr Brigid Forrest, husband-wine owners of Forrest Estate Winery – that year it had 699 riders and this year it has about 1600, and counting.

This year’s Forrest GrapeRide is on Saturday 7 April in Marlborough. Find out more here:

Wine of the week
2017 Mount Edward Gamay $35

Duncan Forsyth is doing something few winemakers in New Zealand have tried – growing Gamay; the Beaujolais grape.

This wine is unfined, unfiltered, preservative free and it’s a fun wine with a serious side – it’s dark ruby colour, surprisingly intense velvety taste, body and length are balanced by fresh and refreshing acidity. Quantities are tiny but an increase in production is on the horizon.

It’s available here:

Inspiration in a competitive industry

Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun each day and Geoff Thorpe is one of the first to see it. He is the owner of the biggest vine nursery in New Zealand and was made a Fellow of the Wine Institute of New Zealand late last year. His story follows, as does the source of his inspiration in the stiffly competitive wine industry.

Geoff Thorpe, founder of Riversun Nurseries in Gisborne


What’s your favourite part of the day?

GT: Waking up at our Wainui Beach hillside home to the sun rising over the Pacific then walking down to feed the chooks, collect the eggs and go for my morning swim in the ocean.


What inspires you each morning?

GT: The views, the bracing swim, the rising sun, the waves (whatever the weather) and then returning to breakfast with my family – life is amazing and after all that, I feel I can take on the world every day.


What trends do you see emerging in New Zealand wine today?

GT: Sauvignon Blanc has become more dominant in our grafting book over the last five years, but we expect this to level out and rebalance over the next few years as all the new plantings of it come into full production.


Any other trends you see right now?

GT: Consolidation of our client base, as more grape growers start to sell or lease to the larger wine companies. It is increasingly tough out there for those who do not have very strong brands, distribution or economies of scale.


Which new grapes show the biggest promise?

GT: Albarino is gaining traction, albeit from a very small base. Of all the new varieties we have imported (30+), this one has seen people start to expand on their original trial plantings.


What are the biggest pressures you see in grape growing today?

GT:  Everyone struggling with the reality of steadily increasing costs, especially wages and spraying costs, thanks to powdery mildew, but with no ability to lift fruit or wine prices to compensate – the margins are under intense pressure for everyone.

climate change having?

GT:  Every year we are seeing things never experienced in 30 to 40 years of grape growing and seasoned growers around the country all say the same thing. Last winter was the wettest on record in most of New Zealand and Jan 2018 has been the hottest month ever. Humidity and overnight high temperatures caused intense disease pressure, Central Otago hit veraison almost a whole month  ahead of normal and was the first region to start harvest this year. It’s crazy stuff and very worrying. What next?


How is climate change affecting the taste of wine?

GT: With regard to climate change and the taste of wine, I am not sure. It all depends on the last few weeks of ripening – if we still get good ripening, we can still make outstanding quality wines. Brix levels and berry sizes were running well ahead of average in January and February this year but seem to have levelled out and now look to be coming more in line with long term averages.


How has your wine drinking changed?

GT: Less is more. I am definitely drinking less (smaller servings in the glass and only on occasions or after a really full on day, and I am drinking great wines whenever possible.


What is your favourite wine?

GT: It’s too hard to single one out. It all depends on the occasion, location and time of year


When did you decide to dive in and work with wine and vines?

GT: I started when my father planted a vineyard in Gisborne in 1977 and then I started grafting vines in 1983 when phylloxera arrived in Gisborne. I became committed to trying to make the best quality grafted grapevines in the world.


What makes wine and vines rewarding?

GT: The wonderful people in New Zealand and all around the world, be they our amazing staff, fellow nursery folk, scientists, breeders, growers, wine makers or marketers. We are so blessed to have many of the smartest and most talented people in the wine world right here in New Zealand. It’s also seeing our clients, large and small, realising their vision and knowing our baby vines have helped to play a small but critical part in their journey.


About Geoff Thorpe

He founded Riversun Nursery in 1982 to supply grafted grapevines to Gisborne vineyards following the discovery of phylloxera, which destroys vines by attacking their roots.

Riversun has since grown to become the biggest supplier of grafted grapevines to the New Zealand wine industry. In 2000 Geoff helped rescue a collection of grape  varieties, clones and rootstocks from a national collection at Ruakura. That year he also launched the first independently audited certification programme for grafted vines and in 2001 he  entered into licence agreements with ENTAV-INRA and other overseas plant providers to source new vines for the industry. Then in 2003 he established New Zealand’s first privately owned Level 3 grapevine quarantine facility to import new grapevine plant material. He is strongly involved in the New Zealand wine industry and has sponsored the Bragato Conference since it began in 1995.

« Older posts

© 2018 Vino

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑