Tuesday, 02 April 2024 13:33

Editorial: Plenty of tears

Written by  Sophie Preece
Rachael Cook. Photo Credit: Francine Boer Photography. Rachael Cook. Photo Credit: Francine Boer Photography.

OPINION: Rachael Cook is the smiling grape grower on this month’s cover, tending vines on the miniscule, beautiful and dream-driven vineyard she and her husband Murray have created on an east facing hillside of Marlborough’s Brancott Valley.

But there’ve been plenty of tears shed while forging their wine label Nous in the moonlit margins of busy lives, with a young family, fulltime jobs at Dog Point Vineyard, and little more than basic tools to develop this wonderful side-hustle.

It’s a common theme of this edition’s focus feature, which explores the plethora of passion projects growing around New Zealand, as winegrowers and winemakers and wine marketers seek something unique, authentic and personal in their wines, sacrificing plenty along the way.

“Everyone thinks it’s living the dream, which it definitely is, but it is by no means easy,” says Donald van der Westhuizen of Moko Hills in Central Otago. “Unless your whanau or partner are on the same page and support what you are doing it will put strain on these relationships,” agrees Jannine Rickards of Huntress in the Wairarapa.

Jules Taylor, whose own side hustle began in 2001 with 400 cases of wine and a busy fulltime job, feels a “a bit queasy” when she sees others following that path now. It’s akin to seeing a young person with a small child, and thinking “thank God that’s not me”, she says. “I do take my hat off to people. It’s not easy… You are dealing with something so driven by nature and the season, that just complicates things even more. But it’s also what makes the job really interesting, because every year is different.”

That’s a neat segue to this edition’s harvest update, which is largely about sunny days, dry vineyards, light crops, great quality and earlier than normal harvest dates. “They’re not all like each other,” says Valli Winemaker Jen Parr. “Or else it would be easy and everyone would do it.”

Sophie Preece


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