Written by Judy Finn
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 41 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.