Welcome to the WineBlog of RedBank James – Viognier

Viognier brought us together, in a way, Colin and I. It was the first time he took me out for dinner at Shed Five in Welllington, where he ordered Champagne and oysters (and I only got five oysters, not six, but because I didn’t want to appear anally retentive – even though I am – I didn’t complain, with the result that Brian, the owner of Shed Five, who’s now a friend of mine, insisted on my having a huge helping of oysters when Colin and I went to Shed Five some months later with him. I wonder what these men had in mind?).

Anyway, enough vileness. Over dinner, Colin Carruthers asked if it was okay if he ordered Viognier. I’d never come across anyone in NZ who knew about Viognier (remember, I was a Member of Parliament at the time – I didn’t exactly mix in sophisticated company). I said, “How do you know about Viognier?”

He said, “I grow it in my vineyard in Martinborough”.

And so he does – 500 vines and this year we had our first fruit from the little beauties. The wind was a menace and I spent much of summer hauling the nets back over the vines, and mending the tears. We nursed the Viognier grapes along and, advised by Nick Hoskins of Vine Managers, and John Porter of Porters Pinot, we picked (in the rain) 100 kilograms.

Larry McKenna took one look at the trailerload and asked where the real crop was hiding:

We ferried them into Martinborough, to Oak House, where Elizabeth supervised the pressing in a delightful basket press:

Here’s Colin Carruthers QC masquerading as a cart horse (the grapes on his gumboots were a wedding present from daughter-in-law, artist Anna Stichbury  who’s married to Colin’s eldest son Andrew, who made this web/blogsite and whose company TimeZoneOne recently won an Effie award in the fashion/style category for the Crocs campaign, ‘take a closer look’):

Here’s the Viognier juice coming out, and then after you take the wooden sides of the press away, you’re left with this sort of pressed-grape cake which the piggies just love:

So we’ve ended up with 50 litres of Viognier (Yes, we know, it would be cheaper to go in to the Martinborough Wine Centre and buy a dozen bottles) but this is about having fun. David Bull at the Cabbage Tree Vineyard is filtering the wine, and in a few weeks we will bottle it in some James Pinot Noir bottles I’ve been recycling and have to wash with caustic soda and citric acid.

Oh, yes, people are asking for a photo of me, since I write these blogs and all you see is my husband and others. So here is a picture of me:

I feel a Tui billboard coming on.


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