25 June 2009Strutting our stuff at an exhibition opening

Well, Jane and I have just had a most amazing night!  We have been able to combine our love of fine art and great wine by being a sponsor of the new exhibition at Ron Epskamp Exhibitions - Gallery of Fine Art in Wellington. 

We have been serving our wine to a great crowd who attended the invitation only opening night of the 'An Artist's Garden' exhibition.  The art is outstanding; with works by Peter Hackett, John Badcock, Svetlana Orinko and Rochelle Andrews. 

We presented, and served, our 2008 '36 bottles' Pinot Noir and '36 bottles' Pinot Gris (the latter now sadly sold out).  We received many great comments on the wine, which was very gratifying to both Jane and myself.  On the night the Pinot Gris was popular with its lifted fruity bouquet (a great match for a garden theme!) while the Pinot Noir was enjoyed for its warmth and body (a 'warmer upper' on a cold evening).  It was great fun interacting with people at an event as uplifting and enjoyable as an Art Exhibition opening, being a feast for both the senses of sight and taste!

The post exhibition dinner with some of the artists was also very enjoyable.  Great to get to discuss the paintings and what drives the artists.

It's well worth popping along to Ron's gallery at the corner of Featherston and Brandon Street in central Wellington to view the paintings.  The exhibition runs through to 18 July 2009.  For more details go to www.exhibitionsgallery.co.nz.

Thanks to Ron for having us as a sponsor.  We hope we get the opportunity to repeat the engagement again at a future date.

13 February 200936 bottles has 6,000 bottles

13 February 2009, and it’s a Friday!  But more importantly we were bottling our Pinot Noir today, so it’s not a time to be superstitious!


For this occasion almost the whole team is along for the ride from Wellington to Cromwell via Dunedin. Patrick, Jane and I are there, with our Operations Manager, Emma and the grand kids.  What doesn’t drive us insane will make us stronger. The rental company have given us the use of people mover that we decide to call the ‘Mafia Mobile’ – due to the dark colour and tinted glass.  Another great drive through to Central Otago – it seems like going home now.  A extra pit stop or two for the kids and we discover hidden talents in a joint reading of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ that has the kids and us in hysterics – it certainly helped make the trip appear to whiz by.


Arrived in Cromwell to first bad news – No bottling until at least mid afternoon. 


So we while away the middle of the day with a flying visit to the winemakers in Wanaka.  This gave us an outstanding result when discussion turned to a bulk lot of Pinot Gris, which is still in tank, which we could get access to.  A quick tasting and a deal is done.  A perfect addition to our label.


Then back to Cromwell and on to meet the great folk at VinPro, who do our bottling.  The Pinot is on site, but more ‘bad news’ as we do more hurry up and wait.


Then suddenly it is all go!  We go out the back, into the bottling hall, to see the first bottles go through the filler, through the screwcap capsule spinner and then queued for labelling.  A special roll of the low numbers is ready, and then with the push of a button the first bottle rolls through the labeller and comes out as bottle 0001 of 6,000.  This is closely followed by the next 35 bottles. They are our 36 bottles!

Then it is pure production line as we help quality control label alignment and adhesion as the bottles move through to be boxed and palleted.  It is incredibly satisfying to see our labels on our wine, and going into boxes with the classy 36 bottles logo.  Also it’s good to know that we are doing a little bit for the planet with the use of recycled materials for the cartons.


Then suddenly we are at the end of the run.  It’s satisfying to have the first vintage in bottle – no more chance of anything going wrong to a bulk amount of the wine.  We finish off with 12 magnums and 3 double magnums – equivalent to 36 bottles!  Even on the big bottles our labels look impressive.  A few photos for the album and we are on our way.


All that is left is a quick dinner, fish and chips by Lake Dunstan and the drive back to Dunedin, followed by a flight to Wellington for Patrick, Jane and I tomorrow.

19 January 2009Today we blended the very first 36 Bottles Pinot Noir

Patrick and I flew down from Wellington to Dunedin yesterday morning, grabbed a rental car and headed off on our version of a boys road journey.  I have to say that in mid January the scenery through Outram, Middlemarch and Ranfurly is pretty special.  With the road pretty much to ourselves we made good time right through to Wanaka.  An evening in the Speights Ale House, dinner, beer and watching cricket on the big screen was great relaxation before the big blending day.  Pity that we had to walk back to the motel in a downpour!


Blending day dawned sunny and we decamped to the winery.


Who said blending was simple, or easy?  I had thought it was stressful in the run up to harvest.  Were the grapes physiologically ripe yet?  Would we get picked before a frost event or the next rain front?  But now we were about to construct the first 36 bottles blend from the 25+ barrels available.  Suddenly everything came down to this one day!


After meeting up with Dan and Sarah-Kate, the first task was to assemble the representative samples from the barrels.  During the work to take the samples we made the first cut – 2 barrels didn’t measure up.


Then we moved to the tasting room, arranged our glasses, and poured samples of each wine.  Then, all was quiet as we tasted our way through the possible components and made our notes.  After a few minutes we discussed our findings and formulated a strategy for trialling some possible blends.


Backwards and forwards we worked through the permutations, and a direction began to take shape.  Then we had the ‘eureka’ moment, a slight tweak back on older barrel elements, a greater emphasis on newer oak portion, and what was in the glass aligned with the vision we had in our minds!


The details were quickly noted down, so that the final processing of the wine before it headed to the bottling line would be done on the bulk wine assembled from the right barrels.  At the end of the blending another 2 barrels had missed the cut, so the 2008 Pinot Noir would consist of just on 6,000 bottles.

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