The big excitement today, was the planting of the first vines on the ‘Wilson Estate’. Andrew has always been a cattle farmer, and (having leased land from his father for years) had bought this farm with a view to raising cattle. However, this particular area of Hawkes Bay enjoys a micro-climate, making it ideal for growing grapes – and the Wilson Estate has all the makings of an excellent vineyard!
After breakfast we were joined by Andrew’s friends, Kingsley, who was providing viticulture expertise, and John Whitehead. They had brought with them a sample 100 or so of the 4,000 Merlot vines, which were to be the first crop. (Infant vines look incredibly dull, by the way – just a twig with a small ball of roots.) While Kingsley carefully pruned away surplus shoots, Andrew and John dug holes. Brigid followed along with a hose …
Still later in the day, Roddy, another friend of Andrew’s, arrived with his girlfriend, Michelle. He had once owned a multi-million dollar business, sculpting neat, uniform-sized potatoes for the airline and catering industries.
However, since selling the company, Roddy had gone ‘bush’. He now had shoulder-length hair, and travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand in a beaten-up Landrover (and a moth-eaten sweater), pursuing his favourite passion – fishing! Roddy was definitely a hit with the Wilson children, especially Araminta, who was determined that he should build them all a tree house.
Whatever. Roddy was clearly a very good friend, as he had volunteered to help plant several thousand vines, and arrived with a barrow-load of fresh vegetables, offering to cook dinner one evening.