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How Our 10th Season at Misha’s Vineyard is Shaping Up

Posted on March 24th, 2016

Michelle Dacombe Feb 2015Michelle Dacombe, our Vineyard Manager, has shared her diary notes of how she’s found the 2015/2016 season at Misha’s Vineyard. This will be our 10th harvest so it’s another key milestone. As yet, we haven’t started picking but that will start early in April.

Michelle’s Season Diary:

• June-August: It was a very cold dry winter – with some mornings at -5 C

• September: This month was the start of the growing season. We recorded low rainfall and very few frosts – but then frosts are not an issue for our frost-drained site at Misha’s Vineyard

• October: Low rainfall was recorded during the month (9mm), but we had warmer temperatures, good Growing Degree Day (GDD) heat accumulation, and plenty of wind. Budburst was on a par with the 14-15 season.

• November: This month was very dry (10mm rain), with lots of wind dominated by northerlies and we had cooler temperatures causing slow growth of the vines. There was plenty of damage from wind, even with the canopy wires up which normally protect the new growth. There was no sign of flower on the vineyard during this month. We were able to get most of the shoot thinning and bud rubbing completed.

Our Abel clone in January

Our Abel clone in January

• December: Flowering started in first few days of the month on the lower altitude blocks and was finished across the vineyard by the 16th of the month. The wind continued throughout the month and a southerly change with cooler temperatures kicked in during the week of 14th December and we wondered when summer would arrive. Our fruit set looked good – we had bigger bunches than last year, but fewer bunches. Finally in the week leading up to Christmas, temperatures got very hot and so by the end of the month the vines looked a bit tired and there were a few yellow basal leaves around. However we did enjoy lovely warm weather over the Christmas/New Year holiday period!

• January: Some cold easterly weather arrived and so did small outbreaks of powdery mildew – mainly in our Lakefront Block where we have quite a lot of vigour in some of the bays. With the application of some JMS stylet oil, we were able to contain the problem quickly. We completed all the trimming on the vineyard and we leaf plucked (by hand) the vines on the lakefront, ski slope and house blocks but it only required a very light level of leaf plucking this season. We also removed the laterals around the fruit in other blocks when we did the fruit thin.

• February: Temperatures started off very hot and vines pushed a lot of lateral growth. We also did trimming again across the vineyard. We had 27mm rain on 17th which cooled things down. We had an increased level of wind again – which we normally don’t have at this time of year. During this month we had veraison (which is when the fruit starts to ripen and the berries change colour) – and it was fairly even across most blocks on the vineyard. Our small crew of 6 casuals joining our permanent crew, did a great job of putting the bird nets on the vineyard and completing the fruit thinning. At this stage, our crop level is looking larger than last season – which is a direct reflection of berry number and size. The reality is we don’t have more fruit, but we do have heavier fruit.

• March: We finished putting on the bird nets on the 4th March and completed the last crop adjustments – ie ‘the green thin’! Our casual staff finished with us mid-month as all the work has been completed on the vineyard and now we just wait for ripening and Olly our winemaker to make the first picking decision. We did our first sampling of fruit to check brix levels (ie sugar levels that indicate ripeness) on the 16th March and we were at exactly the same sugar levels as on the 20th March last season – so indicating we’ll likely have a very similar picking schedule to last year. The ripening of the fruit across the vineyard seems to be very even although the warmer nights earlier in the month increased the ripening of the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. On the 17th March, it seemed the autumn mornings had arrived as we had fog and just 3 degrees. We are now just waiting to get the right level of ripeness in the fruit and for Olly to give us the go ahead and the 10th harvest at Misha’s Vineyard will commence!

Dining out with Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on March 3rd, 2016

Two amazing opportunities for foodies and wine lovers to experience degustation menus matched with Misha’s Vineyard Wines happened in February.

Misha presenting at Table Restaurant

Misha presenting at Table Restaurant

The first event was a Long Lunch at The Nice Hotel in New Plymouth. The Nice Hotel with iconic host Terry Parkes have served Misha’s Vineyard wine for a long time. We’ve always been fascinated with this hotel and its reputation for beautiful décor, amazing food and hospitality that goes beyond just being a place to stay and dine. Terry knows just about everyone in New Plymouth and our three day stay at the hotel backed this up with a constant flow of locals dropping in any time – day or night. There is no distinction between guests and friends at The Nice Hotel – you are all treated as friends!

Seaweed crumbed Tuna served with The Starlet. YUM!

Seaweed crumbed Tuna served with The Starlet. YUM!

We were treated to a guest room in the “Best Suites” building which was amazing. Our Long Lunch on Sunday bought in a mix of regular guests of Table Restaurant and people who wanted to come along and see what the reputation was all about. None were disappointed. Chef Ben Crawshaw had prepared a fantastic 5 course menu of perfectly matched dishes which were served in leisurely style befitting a “Long Lunch” in the outdoor courtyard of Table restaurant. The sun was shining, the food was delicious, the chilled wines really popular and laughter louder than the music Terry had chosen to accompany lunch. It had been a long time since we were last in New Plymouth – but we’ll be back soon.

Chetan and his amazing team of chefs plate while telling guests about the dish

Chetan and his amazing team of chefs plate while telling guests about the dish

After a few days spent visiting customers in various towns in the southern part of the North Island we arrived at The Copthorne Hotel in Wellington for our long awaited Misha’s Vineyard Summer Degustation Dinner. Executive Chef and F & B Manager Chetan Pangam had hatched the idea with Misha’s some time ago and while schedules are always hard to align this was well worth waiting for. The dinner was sold out well ahead indicating how popular the dinners at One80 restaurant are.
Curry leaf Ora King Salmon

Curry leaf Ora King Salmon

The dinner was more than food and wine, it was theatre with an incredible view of Oriental Bay as the backdrop. The eight course degustation meals were plated on a large bench in front of the 80 guests with Chetan talking about intricacies of the dish as he and his team of chefs served and meticulously decorated each plate.
Misha talks to guests about Misha's Vineyard

Misha talks to guests about Misha’s Vineyard

Misha and Andy took turns at introducing the wines and telling the story of Misha’s Vineyard, then our guest star of New Zealand Opera – and one of the touring 10 Tenors, Cameron Barclay, performed songs to match the wines! A High Note aria to match our estate Pinot Noir, a piece from an opera of the Verismo period to match our Reserve Pinot Noir and a Cadenza to match our Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. It was truly an amazing evening with local Wellingtonians and a number of overseas guests coming to see us after the dinner to congratulate us and Chetan on providing one of their most memorable evenings.

It’s always a treat to have these wonderful venues host lunches and dinners that not only feature our wines, but help us tell their customers who we are and why we love the wine business. Thanks to two incredible hosts for their passion and support in making these events happen.

Misha’s Vineyard Matches

Posted on February 1st, 2016

The 2016 year is kicking off for Misha’s Vineyard with a season of wine dinners and events planned across a wide array of locations during the first few months of the year.

Table logoTable restaurant at Nice Hotel is an award-winning restaurant and considered to be New Plymouth’s finest. On February 21st Table will present their first Sunday Long Lunch of the year featuring Misha’s Vineyard Wines. Hotel owner and host Terry Parkes has built a huge reputation for The Sunday Long Lunch at the Nice Hotel – popular with local business people, foodies and wine enthusiasts. Misha and Andy will talk about the wine as the chef team present a 5 course degustation menu over a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

s5_logoFollowing later in the week the The Copthorne hotel’s One80 restaurant in Wellington’s Oriental Bay, will be the venue for another Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner. With Executive Chef Chetan Pangam leading the team, One80 boasts stunning views across Oriental Bay with the restaurant receiving many culinary awards including Beef & Lamb Hallmark of Excellence every year since 2006.

Heading on a South East Asian tour in March, Misha and Andy’s schedule of wine dinners and events will start in Kuching (Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo), then Penang Island in North West Malaysia, followed by two events in Singapore including the five star Intercontinental Hotel and the Singapore Island Country Club.

Rees LogoThen back on home turf for the 1st of April, Misha’s Vineyard and The Rees Hotel in Queenstown will be teaming up to host the first True South Culinary Series Dinner for the year. Ben Batterbury, Executive Chef at The Rees Hotel who has been pairing food with Misha’s Vineyard wines for some years now, will bring his finely honed culinary skills to craft an eight course degustation menu from the best of Central Otago’s produce, to complement wines selected from eight vintages and featuring many of Misha’s Vineyard library wines in this special evening to mark the 10th vintage of the estate.

It sounds like an exhausting schedule of matches but promises to be lots of fun for all the players! So please book at your nearest venue as we’d love to see you there. Game on!

“Earn Your Lunch” at Misha’s Vineyard

Posted on October 29th, 2015

Sue teaches our guest how to shoot thin vines.

Sue teaches our guest how to shoot thin vines.

Aaron with his students

Aaron with his students


Misha’s Vineyard recently hosted visitors as part of the Down To Earth Central Otago wine experience providing an opportunity to earn lunch by doing a little vineyard work. After an overview tour of the vineyard to show the unique North West facing location on Lakefront Terraces and our terroir, our guests were provided expert instruction by our vineyard team on shoot thinning the new season’s growth on our vines. They then proceeded to practice their new-found skills for about 45 minutes under watchful eyes. It was a unique experience demonstrating just a little of the hard work and hand tending of vines that goes into producing premium wines.

Lunch at Ah Foo's House

Lunch at Ah Foo’s House


After the working session we took them up to our Lucky 8 vines and Ah Foos House – the re-created gold-miner ruins that helps to tell the story of the Chinese gold miners who worked on the land extracting gold over 150 years ago. With a log fire burning in Ah Foo’s fireplace as the backdrop, Misha took the group through a tasting of several Misha’s Vineyard wines describing the influences of the vineyard on the wine styles and specific flavours and textures that come from our spectacular vineyard site.

After choosing a glass of their favourite wine, the guests and our vineyard team settled into a magnificent lunch platter prepared by Moreish Kitchen owner Kimberly Jillings. Sitting in Ah Foo’s House and surrounded by the vines was a relaxing setting after the working session – helped by Ah Foo’s ghostly presence no doubt!

No-one was in a hurry to leave and all expressed their delight at the experience of seeing how a premium vineyard works, then tasting the result!

Just About to Spring into Another Season on Misha’s Vineyard!

Posted on September 22nd, 2015

The Spring Update from Michelle Dacombe – Vineyard Manager, Misha’s Vineyard

Michelle Vineyard Manager

Michelle
Vineyard Manager

After a long cold and dry winter, spring is here — and so are the weeds! This year’s pruning went well with our small team of 3 (with additional help for a month from one casual employee) managing to knock out the almost 26 hectares – that’s 65,000 vines – each one carefully given personal attention!

This year, we’re doing a small trial in two different locations on the vineyard where we have converted the vines from spur pruning to cane pruning. Throughout the growing season we will be able to monitor the differences in reference to timing (budburst, flowering, veraison, etc), fruit set, fruit quality, and once we have ripened the fruit, we can see if there is any difference in the flavour profiles. With each clone of Pinot Noir offering its own viewpoint on the varietal characteristics it will be interesting to note any changes or differences that may arise from pruning.

Spring Vines ready for the new season

Spring Vines ready for the new season

In early spring, the weather can be somewhat erratic and we’re having the occasional day where we have southerlies screaming down the valley which can really chill things down, but the soil temperature is up to 10 degrees which is a bit of a light switch for plants. It’s time to start growing. While the weeds are poking their heads out the vines aren’t quite convinced yet. It looks like it will be another week or two before they make an appearance.

In the meantime, there is plenty to get on with. Commissioning the irrigation in the vineyard is always a big spring job. Every vineyard row has lateral tubing which delivers the irrigation water. Every row must be checked to ensure it’s performing to its potential. Any issues that are found must be fixed and maintenance kept up to ensure optimal performance throughout the summer when irrigation demand reaches its peak. The weatherman seems to think we are in for another very dry summer, so we need the irrigation in tip top shape! The rest of the spring will be filled in with trellis and equipment maintenance – there are tractors to be serviced and cleaned and the sprayer calibrated to make sure we are ready when the vines give the signal.

It won’t be long now.

Misha’s Vineyard on Tour in Australia

Posted on September 4th, 2015

Misha reports on the recent trip to Australia as part of the Central Otago Wineries tour.

Ready! Prince Wine Store - Sydney

Ready! Prince Wine Store – Sydney

We’ve been touring with 10 fellow Central Otago wineries for a series of consumer tasting events in Melbourne and Sydney, did some training with some of the new staff at our distributor (Fesq & Co.), and squeezed in a few trade visits to customers in Sydney, Melbourne as well as a day in Brisbane. It was 8 days exhausting days but we met a lot of folks and shared a lot of wine with people!

Our first stop was in Sydney where we went to the new(ish) Prince Wine Store in Zetland which is a great addition to the fine wine retailing scene in Sydney. The Prince Wine Shop in Melbourne is a destination shop so we’re sure this one will be the same.

New friends! The Winery

New friends! The Winery

With an ‘only Pinot Noir’ theme, visitors to the store had a chance to try over 30 Central Otago Pinots and we had a great turn out. Our next tasting was at The Winery at Surry Hills which was a great venue for some informal tasting with a much younger group of consumers who were keen to explore what Central Otago had to offer, so all the wineries showcased white wines as well as Pinot Noir. Our final Sydney tasting was at the Royal Automobile Club run by The Pinot Shop, which provided an added benefit by giving consumers the opportunity of trying wines with the new Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir Glass. The glass made such a difference, and not only for the Pinot Noir but the examples of Pinot Gris and Riesling that were available for tasting also performed well in the new glass which really emphasized the gorgeous aromas of these cool climate beauties.

Great turn-out of customers at Tom's Cellars

Great turn-out of customers at Tom’s Cellars

We were also were pleased to be able to host a tasting evening with one of our big retail supporters, Tom’s Cellars in West Pymble on the North Shore of Sydney. We presented some back vintages of our dry Lyric Riesling to an enthusiastic group in his cellar space under the shop, along with the full range of the Misha’s Vineyard wines we offer in Australia. The customers at Tom’s were genuinely interested in the wines, Central Otago region and the stories of Misha’s Vineyard. It was a really fun night and we had a very enthusiastic audience.

Brent from Wine Emporuim

Brent, Wine Emporuim

I dashed up to Brisbane for a very busy day visiting some of our favourite restaurant customers and retailers – -it’s always good to see Brent at Wine Emporium.
Tyson with Misha

Tyson with Misha

During the day there I finally caught up with the multi-award winning writer Tyson Stelzer. Gosh – what a great guy. When you’re talking to Tyson you have his full attention and he sure doesn’t appear to have any ego. It’s quite refreshing to meet an Australian wine journalist that’s as down-to-earth and such a nice guy! I finished the day in Brisbane with an evening tasting at Stewarts at the Barracks where we enjoyed meeting some new Misha’s Vineyard converts and where a gentleman happily walked home carrying a case of The High Note Pinot Noir with his complimentary pack of Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir glasses that I had bought with me as a giveaway!

Prince Wine Store - Melbourne

Prince Wine Store – Melbourne

Our time in Melbourne, despite the grey and dampness, was busy and we managed to fit in some training with our distributor team before hitting the road for some trade calls. One of our schedule Melbourne events was a tasting evening at Armadale Cellars who pride themselves on their focus and selection of fine wines and their loyal customers certainly proved how knowledgeable they were during our evening tasting. This year the two events we did with Prince Wine Shop included a dinner at their associated restaurant Bellota, which featured a Misha’s Vineyard Verismo Pinot Noir 2009 which Philip Rich (owner of Prince Wine Store) highlighted as a standout wine on the evening, and the big Saturday tasting event which had shop staff saying they hardly ever get that sort of turnout to a Saturday tasting! Well when you have nearly a dozen of Central Otago wine producers pouring their best – it’s sure to bring out the biggest crowd, right?

Huka Lodge Invites Misha’s Vineyard for an Opera Weekend

Posted on August 4th, 2015

Misha and Andy were invited to one of New Zealand’s – and the world’s – most iconic luxury lodges!

Well it wasn’t just Misha’s Vineyard who were invited to be part of the Italian Opera Weekend in June of this year – we were in fact part of an amazing group that included celebrity chef Stefano Manfredi, who flew over from Sydney, Jonathan Alver (artistic director of the New Zealand Opera) and five up and coming stars from the New Zealand Opera School! This special weekend was billed as an opportunity for guests to be “enriched and inspired by beautiful voices, fine cuisine and stunning wines”.

Chef Stefano cooking class

Chef Stefano cooking class

After joining in to watch the cooking demonstration for Huka Lodge guests by Stefano Manfredi on the perfect risotto, Andy and I then hosted guests in the Main Lodge Room and introduced Misha’s Vineyard and shared with them the story of how a background in opera and ballet became an inspiration for our brand. We finished just in time for pre-dinner cocktails where guests were able to try our first 2 wines – ‘The Starlet’ Sauvignon Blanc and our ‘Impromptu’ Pinot Noir.

NZ Opera Singers entertain between courses.

NZ Opera Singers entertain between courses.

Our degustation dinner commenced at 8pm in the main dining room which was full and in fact over-flowing – with in fact a few guests on an additional table in the library room. We were all still sitting at tables at nearly midnight after our four-hour (5-course) feast! The evening was broken up into segments of amazing food, performances by the opera stars, explanations of each course by Chef Manfredi and of course introductions to each wine by yours truly! Given that our wines all have names inspired by the opera or the theatre, it seemed only right that we were introducing wines like ‘The High Note’ at this opera-inspired dinner. After a sumptuous meal, everyone retired back into the Lodge Room for drinks, petit-fours and coffee.

The next morning at 10am, I utilized my training as a musicologist and hosted a casual session we called ‘Divas and Doughnuts’ in The Trophy Room for those guests keen on hearing and understanding a bit more abaut opera. I presented a couple of short excerpts from Lucia di Lammermoor – one of the great tragic operas by Gaetano Donizetti – which featured Dame Joan Sutherland. This particular opera inspired the name of some of our wines and also it was an opera I had performed in (as a dancer) whilst my mother was singing as part of the Australian Opera. And this was at the time that Dame Joan herself was singing the lead role of Lucia.

Divas and Doughnuts session

Divas and Doughnuts session

The excerpts presented included ‘The Mad Scene’ which has one of opera’s most famous Cadenzas (in fact a double cadenza for voice and flute) which seemed appropriate given ‘The Cadenza’ is the name of our newly-released dessert wine. Then as one of the examples of “The High Note’ (the name of our main estate Pinot Noir), I played the sextet from the end of the second act of Lucia di Lammermoor, “Chi mi frena in tal momento” which has Dame Joan hit one of the most stunning high notes I ever heard! Other opera segments I presented demonstrated different aspects of opera that relate to our sub-brand naming including some particularly poignant opera arias from the ‘Verismo’ period – the name of our reserve Pinot Noir.

By the way, we absolutely adored everything about Huka Lodge and are fortunate to be spending a couple of days back there in November – but purely for relaxation purposes!

Negociants New Zealand June Tour

Posted on June 30th, 2015

The "Serious Sauvignon" Masterclass panel

The “Serious Sauvignon” Masterclass panel

Every year we look forward to the Negociants New Zealand “Aussie & Kiwi Winemakers Tour”. It’s a time when all the Australian and New Zealand producers on the Negociants Portfolio get together under one roof to show new releases and catch up with customers.

What is special about this tour is we all get together as friends. Mostly we do only meet once each year on the tour but we spend most of the week together, catching early morning or evening flights, working hard all day then relaxing over a late dinner and glass of wine. Being part of the Negociants New Zealand family is something special.

Customers try new releases and talk to the winemakers

Customers try new releases and talk to the winemakers

Likewise our customers that we meet each year have become friends. So many of them come every year to see us on the tour – but they support us all year and follow us on Facebook or other forums to keep up with our activities.

The schedule was busy – arriving in Auckland on Monday morning – straight into Masterclasses, then trade tasting all afternoon followed by a quick pack-up and off to Wellington. The same schedule flowed from Wellington to Christchurch then finishing in Dunedin.

Thanks Negociants – It’s a great tour, expertly run and well worthwhile.

Misha’s Vineyard in Fiji

Posted on May 27th, 2015

In May Misha and Andy visited our distributor and customers in Fiji

Fiji - trade calls in Denarau (63)Bula! You might think that a trip to Fiji is hardly likely to be a business trip but I can assure you our trip in May was absolutely packed with trade visits, wine training with various hotels and resorts, hosting various wine dinners, and also spending some time with wonderful distributor, Victoria Wines.

Arriving in Nadi, we were met by Kate Vusoniwailala, whose father Liam established Victoria Wines many years back and who still is very involved in the business. Kate is now responsible for the day-to-day running of the business and is doing an amazing job and expanding the team. In fact Victoria Wines now has a training manager on board and has started to provide WSET education which is a milestone for Fiji in terms of hospitality education. Just a couple of weeks before we arrived, Victoria Wines had invited one of New Zealand’s Master of Wine, Jane Skilton, to Fiji to conduct some WSET training in Nadi and Suva.

Gateway to Castaway Island Resort

Gateway to Castaway Island Resort

After a short trip from the airport, we settled into the beautiful Sofitel Hotel on Denarau Island and as the sun went down we acclimatised to our new surroundings with a ‘Bula – Life on the Beach’ – a very colourful cocktail that’s a speciality of the hotel! Next day our business activities start and we met by the effervescent Joyce Kumari, who heads the sales team, and were off on our first call.
Arriving in style at Castaway Island

Arriving in style at Castaway Island

This first meeting was via boat – in fact it was via the local ferry first and then mid-ocean we transferred to a smaller boat – and then we had to jump out of the small boat and wade in to the island! The vision of Andy with his shoes and socks popped the top of the carton of wine he was carrying from the boat up the beach looked like he was doing an ad for courier company DHL – ‘we will delivery…no matter what’! We had a wonderful meeting with Steven and Monica on Castaway Island – our first-ever barefoot trade call sitting at a table under palm trees. That’s the way all meetings should take place.

Joyce & Misha

Joyce & Misha

Back at Denarau Port we had the opportunity to visit the brand new Yacht Club with their wonderful restaurant Rhum-Ba. In fact we visited it on their first day of business and came back and had dinner on their 2nd night of operations – and it was fabulous. We were delighted to see that our Misha’s Vineyard Lyric Riesling is featured on their small and carefully chosen wine list and we hear there will be more of our wines on the list soon! If you’re ever in Denarau, visit the Yacht Club – which promises to be one of the most popular spots in town judging by the number of people we saw there in the first couple of days of business. Whilst on Denarau Island, we also met with met with the F&B Directors of some of the top hotels (including at the Sofitel Hotel where we were staying) and did another wonderful training session with the team at the Hilton Hotel. We had been to the Hilton two years earlier and they stock Misha’s Vineyard wines, so it was great to go back and do some refresher training there.

The amazing Victoria Wines team

The amazing Victoria Wines team

The next day after some training with the Victoria Wines team, Andy and I headed out to the airport for our flight to Laucala Island – the second time we have been invited to the island. Laucala (pronounced ‘Lauthala’) is to the east of Taveuni Island and is owned by billionaire Dietrich-Mateschitz of Red Bull fame. Initially his own private island, Laucala is now open to visitors but targets only the world’s most discerning travellers and frequently hosts celebrities looking for the ultimate in luxury and privacy. We were flown out on one of the island’s private planes and on arrival settled into our gloriously spacious hilltop villa. It’s hard to describe the luxury of Laucala Island – you need to experience to know just how perfect a place can be!

Our villa at Laucala

Our villa at Laucala

Our first evening on Laucala Island started with cocktails at the Rock Lounge with Tony, the golf pro who manages the 18-hole championship golf course, then a wonderful Asian-inspired dinner at Seagrass Lounge. It’s not unusual to be the only people at a restaurant at Laucala Island as they regularly have less than a dozen guests on the island and five restaurants – hard to get your head around right? But wait, they have a staggering 370 staff because Laucala Island is focussed on sustainability with most of what’s used on the island being produced on the island, so many of the staff are involved in the organic farms and gardens producing fruit, vegetables, herbs and meat for resort restaurants as well as flowers and spices for the spa.

Staff training at Laucala - lots of fun!

Staff training at Laucala – lots of fun!

The next day, Andy and I delivered wine education to the F&B teams starting with a three-hour session in the morning which was repeated in the afternoon with a second group of staff. We taught the Laucala Island team about New Zealand wine, detailed information on the key varieties and we did a little wine tasting with them too. With many having taken some WSET education already so they were a pretty knowledgeable crew! In the evening we hosted a wine dinner in the main restaurant Plantation House with some of the guests and the islands General Manager Andrew Thomson, with the range of our wines that the resort carries, as well as a few special wines we brought over with us. Sadly the next morning, we had to leave the island but we do have an invitation to return again! We will definitely be back.

The team training at The Pearl

The team training at The Pearl

We flew into Suva and spent a day visiting customers and also training the Victoria Wines team in the lovely new shop in Damodar City centre then we drove down to The Pearl South Pacific Resort which is set on one of Fiji’s longest beaches. Within a few minutes of arriving we were back into wine training for the team at the hotel! With the training complete, we had a little time to relax before we headed to the brand new restaurant at the hotel called Seduce. The hotel’s General Manager Natalie Marletta, was responsible for conceiving the restaurant and she’s done an amazing job as it’s a seriously beautiful space with the most incredible views across the ocean. Chef Ben Tedrick created some superb and innovative food with his degustation menu. This was our second wine event at The Pearl, having been there two years earlier for a wine lunch. I have a feeling we’ll be back at The Pearl before too long as well!

The next morning we were driven back to Nadi to connect without flight home and back to reality. The truth is i I only had about 15 minutes in a pool the whole time we were in Fiji as it really was a business trip. However, we dined on some of the most amazing food, had the most glorious cocktails, stayed in some luxurious hotels and resorts and met some of the nicest and happiest people in the world. I don’t mind that sort of work!

Canadian “Gold Medal Plates” Visit to Vineyard

Posted on March 30th, 2015

Olly talks about the Central Otago region and wines

Olly talks about the Central Otago region and wines

On 30th March we welcomed a group of 20 Canadian visitors to Misha’s Vineyard. Lead by well-known Toronto wine writer and educator David Lawrason, the wine interest group was part of a larger “Gold Medal Plates” tour from Canada who were visiting New Zealand. Gold Medal Plates raises money for high performance Canadian athletes through culinary events and trip auctions.

With the weather having been forecast cold and damp we were delighted to see clear skies and no wind in the morning as we set up marquee, tables and wine table ahead of their arrival. The area around Ah Foo’s House on the Top Block of Misha’s Vineyard has been used for

David Lawrason talks to the group about the style of New Zealand wines

David Lawrason talks to the group about the style of New Zealand wines

smaller groups and tastings before, but not for a larger scale lunch so our vineyard crew had done some clearing work earlier in the week to make sure we had space for the lunch marquee and a gazebo for the food and wine. We lit the fire in Ah Foo’s to make sure there was some warmth should the weather turn cold and to add to the character and atmosphere of the site.

On arrival the group were given an introduction to Misha’s Vineyard and an overview of the Central Otago wine region by Vineyard Manager Michelle Dacombe and Misha’s Vineyard winemaker Olly Masters. This introduction included a tour of the vineyard with Michelle to see the slopes and soils of the vineyard, and a tasting of wines from Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum, Quartz Reef and Mondillo hosted by Olly to show the quality and diversity of wines from the region. One of our seasonal vineyard team – Haruru Kubo a sommelier from Tokyo – helped with pouring the wines as we talked about the climate, soils, viticulture and winemaking that has propelled Central Otago wines to prominence in such a short time.

Cooking the Paella

Cooking the Paella

Rees Hotel GM Mark Rose with the Paella

Rees Hotel GM Mark Rose with the Paella

The group were staying at The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments in Queenstown, and lunch was prepared by hotel General Manager Mark Rosewho proved his culinary expertise in quite rustic surroundings. With limited cooking facilities available on the vineyard Mark and Mika used Ah Foo’s fireplace to prepare the Paella and our small BBQ to cook the chicken and seafood topping. The lunch was quite spectacular. The fireplace gave a slight smoky note to the Paella which was sensational, and the finishing touches produced a platter that could have been from any fine dining kitchen. Ah Foo would have been impressed!

Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

David Lawrason gave a pre-lunch talk on the wines we had for the day, plus some other wines of New Zealand that had been bought along to show the group. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on the wines of New Zealand and how each region has such distinctive characters that show through.

Lunch was a huge success and we won a lot of fans for Central Otago wines from this high profile Canadian group. Thanks to Rudi (Quartz Reef), Lucie (Aurum) and Dominic (Mondillo) for assisting with great wines.