Bleinheim for Great Wine
Blenheim New Zealand for Old Friends and Great Wine. On new years day we left North Island to visit a friend of mine who resides in Blenheim, a small town in South Island New Zealand in Marlborough county and their premier wine growing region. This area has the most hours of sunshine in any area of New Zealand and being in the South I was slightly puzzled by this, but that’s the way it is.
We flew out of Auckland on air New Zealand, a twin propelled plane with female pilots and a joy it was to fly with them as well. It seemed like they were hugging the coast of North Island and I was enthralled looking out the window at the lovely New Zealand countryside and coast. There was time for a cup of tea and some biscuits and before we knew it it was time to land.
Nestled amongst the mountains with sharp winds we experienced some turbulence which grew less as we got closer to the ground. Coming in we saw vineyard after vineyard all looking in supreme nick. My friend, formally from Zimbabwe, my partner in South Africa and runner up one year in Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Grower of the Year, a very prestigious award has some vines here. I couldn’t wait to see his farm. This is just a short piece of our time there and all the fun we had as the years fell away.
A vineyard in Blenheim South Island New Zealand.
My friends vineyard.
Just blowing up the photo in the introduction to give one a clearer view of the vines. Notice the mountains in the background which sets a lovely backdrop to the area and scene. I particularly chose this scene after listening to my friend talk the night before. He never realised that these stones represented such a large area of the farm and when he finally noticed them, he had a big shock and thought he’d made a huge mistake. Luckily for him the vines actually love this, here in South Island anyway. The reasoning behind it being that the stones soak up the sun and actually keep the vines warmer during cold spells than would naturally be the case. Fascinating.
Being a farmer most of my life I was intrigued looking at all this. Look at the black pipe a few inches of the ground. That’s the drip irrigation system and not only is it fully computerised but all his fertiliser requirement are done through this as well. Notice also how clean everything under the vines is (no weeds) and what you see in between rows is grass and when fully taken, he will just put a small tractor mower through this to keep everything neat and tidy, the best way to farm.
Everything here is fully mechanised albeit there is some manual labour establishing the vines and setting up all the poles and wiring to hold the vines in place. This is all contracted out to companies who make a living doing this. As is any crop spraying and weed dusting.
Inspecting the vineyard.
The irrigation pump house and the crop.
Notice the sun glasses on myself and my friends wife. We all of us always got on so well and nothing had really changed. When we were starting our farm in South Africa, we lived outside their house in their caravan with my baby daughter. What times we had and happy memories. To this day the wife and I often reminisce that it was one of the happiest times in our lives, what with all the fun and the dinner parties. Ah, the dinner parties. You see, my friend he always battled to keep his eyes open towards the end and invariably fell asleep at the table, much to his wife’s chagrin. Nothing has changed, except now instead of falling asleep, he just vanishes, but the rest of us stayed up until the end. Those New Zealand wines are fabulous.
I have to add that it has always given me such immense pleasure and pride, that these two great people were prepared to back me even though I was profoundly deaf at that time and still am although I now have a Cochlear implant.
Lunch in a New Zealand Winery.
Meeting an old school friend.
After the mornings inspection of the farm we were to go to a winery for some lunch and some wine tasting. We passed on the wine tasting after the night before. Little did I know it but my friend had arranged some guests to join us, one an old school friend of mine who I had not seen for 38 years and another,one of New Zealand’s most prominent sailors, who has sailed and done very well in the America Cup.
I’m the first to admit that I had a very chequered school career more often in trouble than not. As a matter of fact in my time there I had the record number of times that a boy had been beaten with six cuts. I think it still stands. Aye, terrible times and all they were. Once again I was in sparkling form and I began to tell stories of my time at school, the masters, the friends and the great times we had. Now you must remember that only one of the people there had been at school with me. I had them in stitches, the more they laughed the funnier stories I told. They told me afterwards that they hadn’t laughed so much in a long time, even the New Zealand sailor and his wife. Maybe I’ve got a book in me after all, ‘Spook Moor’s schooldays.’
Speaking of which, I had a great time talking to the sailor seeing as my Dad was ex Royal Navy. I asked him what he thought was the most dangerous sea in the world and he said the Tasman. Who am I to argue?