Episode 18 - A Vintage Decision
On the next episode, screening 15 July 2018 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
When contractors asked Marlborough farmer Locky Taylor which direction he wanted his vineyard planted he had no idea.
“I had to quickly drive over to the neighbour’s to see how they’d done it,” he says. “I knew absolutely nothing about grapes.”
The Taylor family is known for sheep breeding at Dog Hill farm near Ward just south of Seddon. They’ve farmed there for nearly a hundred years.
Twelve years ago Locky and his wife Alley Avery decided to diversify and plant sauvignon blanc, and it’s proved to be a great decision.
Their grapes are in demand - this season three winemakers were vying for their grapes.
“My father always told me you can sell quality stock and I think it’s the same with grapes,” Locky says. “Everyone said growing grapes was just like farming but there’s a few things you’ve got to learn to keep the plant in balance so it continues to fruit.”
One viticulturist, Simon Bowers of Rapaura Springs, who buys their grapes says the vineyard is a “hidden gem”.
“We initially thought the elevation might make it too cool but the winds here ensure frost never settles. It produces classic Marlborough sauvignon flavours.”
Locky’s father, 89-year-old Jack Taylor, was sceptical about the family growing grapes – “I’m a wool man, I like wool” – but he’s delighted with how well it’s turned out.
“It’s a privilege to still be here. It’s a milestone to be here for a hundred years,” Jack says.
Jack’s other great interest, besides sheep, is birds.
He’s part of a group from Birds NZ who capture and band birds on the farm, from small songbirds to hawks.
“They’re large birds, magnificent birds. They’re something you don’t have in your hand very often.”
The Taylor family’s also happy to have hawks flying over their vineyard as they keep the small birds away from eating the crop.
Locky and Alley now know much more about grapes and viticulture, but they say each year it comes down to the wire whether it will be a good season for them.
“I live with the weather – I’ve got about four apps on my phone,” Locky says, “There’s only one pay day with grapes and if you don’t get it you’re going to go hungry for the next 12 months.”
Alley adds: “Harvest time is our most stressful of the year, but it’s also our most exciting”.
See where the grapes from Dog Hill are crushed and fermented here.
Find out more about Marlborough's birdlife here.
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