Tag Archives: NZWine

Something’s bugging me

Literally .

Although not just something . I know exactly what it (they) is (are).

There were a few things that failed to make it on to the property particulars when we moved to Marlborough and, more specifically, to Paradise.

One was the wind in late spring / early summer. Although we had visited the area many many times, we must have just hit lucky on avoiding the wind. Windy Wellington – your more beautiful and slightly wine addled neighbour across the Strait can most certainly give you a run for your money on the wind front – at least for part of the year.

But that’s not it.

What’s bugging me is bugs.

Not affecting me personally, but there’s most certainly a fleeting possibility of threat for our precious babies budding out in the vineyard.

At a certain time of year (now) , the brown beetles or May bugs ( creatively named after their annual appearance in the northern hemisphere ) awaken from neighbouring paddocks to strike fear into the hearts and pockets of grape growers. The bugs choose to burst into life as the sun sets on beautiful days and, from nearby paddocks, aim for the moon and land on the vines. If they get their chance they will then happily procreate and eat their way through the leaves and buds, potentially causing damage.

My first reaction on hearing about our unknown challenge  was confidence that there must be something that could deter them ( or more accurately blitz them into oblivion). But being organic, with a karma-esque attitude to living things, we have found our options are limited.

So, our ritual now is an enforced walk of the vineyard every night as darkness creeps in. Torches in hand, we inspect the leaves and flick the bugs to the ground, where they can no longer do any damage.

No matter how many times we are told by those who have considerable experience in this : “ you’ll know when you have a problem” – ( thankfully, we haven’t found out so far) – we still spend our time cursing the little bug(ger)s and counting how many we knock off. Although a swarm in the thousands is what we are told will indicate an issue (?!) , we still feel the overwhelming need to protect our babies and that’s where it gets compulsive. We are the equivalent of first-time parents. Anxious to do the right thing but no experience yet to give us any real perspective. Being told that we are probably the only growers paying such attention is little comfort.

Although small numbers of bugs will not cause damage, the very fact they are there ‘bugs’ M & I . So we currently spend our evenings knocking as many off leaves as we can, while acknowledging nightly that we can’t get around every single vine.

But we still try.

A good friend who is born and bred in both the area and the industry and therefore experienced in such matters, not so reassuringly said to me, “ you really don’t have a problem until they’re mating on your eyeballs….” .

Now there’s a less than comforting thought to hold for the next few weeks…..


And there’s always a but!

This has given us the pleasure of having a nightly walk together under glorious inky skies. The doodles happily chase hedgehogs and whatever else they pick up a scent on. We talk. We appreciate our surroundings. We count blessings.

Welcome to Paradise !

Yours (hopefully) bug free,


The little                  brown bug(ger)s!

Harvest time

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest”  – William Blake

Marlborough, as well as all other New Zealand wine regions, is currently alive with the sounds of harvesters, trucks, bird scarers and backpackers accents from all corners of the globe as they pick up casual harvest work.

It’s a magical, frantic, stressful and intense time of year.

Watching harvest from the sidelines – with an occasional opportunity to get amongst it – has been an eye opening experience and has given us both a further massive appreciation for that glass of wine we have for so long taken for granted.

On D day , our grapes were hand picked to ensure minimum impact and were collected in antique prams – ingenious yet perfect for holding the small amounts of grapes in each crate. This protects them and their skins which ultimately gives Pinot Noir its flavour.

Wine making is not for the faint hearted. especially for wine makers whose life’s work is to produce world class wines of the highest quality. We are thrilled that we have one of those individuals looking after our grape babies.

Calculating when to harvest is rocket science ( or almost). Balancing of the sugar levels of the grapes vs the weather forecast of imminent rain or wind is key as both can have a catastrophic effect on the quality of the wine. It’s nail biting stuff and you need to be made of strong stuff to be in this job.

Gently does it 🙂

But the buzz around the winery is palpable. It’s hugely exciting . A new wine is being born.

Our wine has no interference. Nothing is added. Nature is allowed to do her thing with nothing but gentle encouragement ( and a good dose of classical music!).

Within days the wine has already started working its magic – it looks, smells and tastes great . We have been visiting every day like proud parents 🙂

Mum and Dad learning all about it

As this wine is laid to a well deserved rest for 18 months before bottling, we look forward to seeing the next vintage burst into life ( and our glasses) in May. Then it’s time to start all over again and give our next bunch of grape babies the best start in life possible.

So next time we pour that glass, maybe a quiet thanks is in order and a nod to those wine magicians who have toiled so hard for our pleasure.

Cheers !