From Blenheim and Renwick we drove due north on highway 6, along the Kaituna river valley towards Havelock, sorely tempted by the Marlborough Sounds to the north east, but resisting them in favour of the Pelorus river valley to the west, and then north again towards Rai, and over the Bryant range to reach Nelson, on the edge of the Tasman Bay and National Park. No wonder there are so many camper vans… Who wouldn’t want to roam in these vast spaces?
Our destination was the Neudorf Vineyards, beyond Upper Moutere, and the Finn family whose enthusiastic work began there in the late 1970s and has now achieved world wide acclaim for their wines, especially the Chardonnay.
They built the house, the winery, laid out the vineyards, and planted the tree (see below) under which we sat to taste the wines and some exquisite local cheeses.
Tim took us to see the vineyards where netting against the birds was underway, while Judy struggled with a communications nightmare – phone signal and server failure as well as a flat tyre. Irritating enough on an ordinary day, but making very difficult the preparations for a concert taking place at the vineyard the following day. All 2000 tickets were already sold for Fat Freddy’s Drop, a dub and reggae band on a world wide tour to celebrate their new BAYS album.
Rosie’s vineyard is visible from the house; high up alongside a patch of increasingly rare natural bushland. It was named for the Finn’s daughter, Rosie, who after finishing her degree in Design is now embarking on a wine-related career working with Wines New Zealand in London.
The Hertz hire car coped surprisingly well with the vineyard boundary tracks…
Tim’s scientific background has driven dozens of experiments to discover what works and what doesn’t in this very particular landscape and climate. His and Judy’s commitment and passion for the place and the product are matched only by their modesty, and generosity towards us.
I wonder whether they had any idea 35 years ago about how things would look today?
Note the iconic VW camper van (below) !
And in 2016!