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: www.graperide.co.nz

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: https://www.mountedward.co.nz/wines/index.html