Sultry Summer

The weather is extraordinary, and it’s predicted to be a long, hot summer. I love it. It feels like all those endless summer holidays of childhood all rolled into one. The horses under the trees in the shade, all day, immobile save their twitching ears and swishing tails. The cat disappears into the long grass, the dog lies prostrate on the cold stones right in front of the garage door where everyone needs to go in and out. Perhaps she thinks this is the only way she’ll get forced exercise.

And yesterday I brought home six chooks and a rooster! The chooks are Rhode Island Red crossed with Brown Leghorn, and the rooster, whom we’ve named Winston (after Winston Peters), is a strutting proud and beautiful boy – Brown Leghorn. They need to be locked up for three days, in their very posh new henhouse (from East Taratahi Timbers in Carterton) and today guess what? We had two eggs! I felt like a child again, when we collected them. When the hens settle down with me I’ll take some photos.

Meanwhile, the skies in this sultry summer heat are very curious. This was taken early this morning, when we’d been measuring up the space for the pig pen: summer-skies-40degrees

Yesterday I received a present in the mail from an old friend in Christchurch, Dave Henderson. Dave’s a controversial character – a true entrepreneur in that sometimes his ventures crash to earth, but most times they soar. In fact, there was a film made about him and his fight with the Inland Revenue Department, a fight he won. You can’t help liking Dave (and I’ve fallen out with him in the past, so I know how difficult he – and I – can be). But most of all, I admire him so much for his courage. After he won the fight with the Inland Revenue Dept he bought their building in Christchurch and has turned it into the most fabulous hotel, called Hotel So. A friend of ours stayed there and raved about it. You can read about it here. And here.

One of Dave’s recent successful ventures is a Central Otago vineyard which is producing pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. Most media in New Zealand loves to kick Dave. They’ll write a headline if he gets so much as a parking ticket, but ignore his successful hotel, and to date I’ve read nothing about his wine. In fact I’d never heard of it until he sent me three bottles yesterday: anthem-001

Cute as a button, he’s borrowed from his libertarian lodestar, Ayn Rand, and labelled the wine “Anthem”. The labels are beautifully designed: anthem-002

This is what’s printed on the back label. I love it: “Anthem is a celebration. It’s a celebration of people. The people everywhere who make this world great. Who, no matter how humble their pursuits, never prevail on others, beat the elements, persist past all setbacks and achieve great things. They do this for their own ends, but along the way they make the world a better place for you and me. They also teach us what is possible. This one’s to them. Enjoy!”

Dave would have written that himself, not used some trendy hip marketing thinktank to write it by committee, so I know it comes from the heart. And it sums up grapegrowing and winemaking, really. Against the odds, even though it’s horrifically expensive, often gutwrenching, we do it because we love the pleasure it brings us, and in the process, the pleasure it brings others.

Here’s to you, Dave Henderson.


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