1978 and the New Zealand fine wine industry was almost non existent. We (Tim and I) were fresh from the “back to the land” movement of the late sixties. We wanted to make beautiful wine. We figured Tim’s masters in Animal Behaviour along with my unimpressive journalism career would be beneficial. Wrong. However we did have youth (temporary), self belief (unwarranted) and friends. At one stage we had four mortgages and three jobs each. The old house at Neudorf had electricity in two rooms, an outside long drop, an inefficient wood stove and no hot water. I look back with no regrets.
Because there was so little known about basic viticulture in New Zealand we planted many varieties to see which ones were best suited to our soils. Merlot came and went as did Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and the dreaded Muller Thurgau. We were a bit hasty in rejecting Gewürztraminer and may look at that again.
But we did it. We, and a whole heap of people – neighbours, family, friends and some fantastic staff. Each left a mark and many have gone onto work in bigger wineries or plant their own vineyard. Today 31 years later and we never feel we have it all sorted. But we love it and we are still learning, not just about viticulture and wine-making but exporting, currency exchange, the internet, human resource issues, distribution, yeasts and barrels, clones and crop levels.
Very few misgivings. Making wine is constantly scary and stimulating. We survive on hard work, high hopes and a dollop of common-sense and cunning.
So thank you everyone – wine drinkers and buyers, agents and sommeliers, staff and family. You help Neudorf survive and prosper.
And a special thanks to Rosie. Her good humour and affectionate nature helps a great deal !
So the future…Tim is a scientist by training and by nature..there will be more trials, more improvements in the field and better gear in the winery. We currently export to about 16 countries and that list continues to grow. And the challenge is still there – better and more beautiful wine year by year. When the world settles down Tim will take some time to master trout fishing , I will keep reading and painting and I hope our staff get a chance to relax a little.