Archive for the 'Fiascos' Category


cancer testing: a fiasco,a misunderstanding or a mystery?

This post has nothing to do with wine but is something I’ve been pondering …

On Wednesday we went as a family to the funeral of Annabel Cooke, a friend who passed away young after battling cancer.  She was an amazing wife and mother but now Richard and their three young children – Josh, Olivia and Ben- must face life without her.  She was also an adored daughter, daughter- in-law and sister.  She was an incredibly giving person and will be missed in many areas of the Marlborough community.  Tragically she is the third young mum to pass away from our St Mary’s primary school community in the last 3 – 4 years (in October of 2008 we lost Janet McLean to cystic fibrosis and before that Jo MacFarlane, also to cancer), all wonderful women who I often have moments of expecting to see walk cheerfully into the school grounds to collect their kids.   

During the time I spent with Annabel I was amazed by how she continued to put others before herself.  On the evening of her terminal diagnosis she was off to school to a parent helpers’ meeting for school camp. Even in her final days when visiting her in the hospice, dosed up with morphine and in a lot of pain she wanted to know what she could possibly do to help out with the upcoming school gala, she was interested in my family and how they were doing, she loved hugging my baby boy and trying to make him smile, she mentioned having Plunket stuff  to finish, she expressed concern about another cancer sufferer in Blenheim who she thought was doing it harder than her, she wanted to work on scrapbooks for her kids …and this wasn’t someone in denial – she was also busy planning her funeral.

I was stunned at how graciously she accepted her fate and how courageously she faced her suffering.   This was someone who made the decision very early on not to be angry nor to fall into justified self-pity.   As a mum I could only feel gutted at her predicament and couldn’t  imagine how I’d cope if I was facing having to leave my children.  It prompted  me to check my own smear test dates and see if I was due again.  But I knew testing hadn’t saved Annabel despite her being conscientious about it.  I also watched a piece on tv recently about Taihape mother Elizabeth Lennox who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer despite a series of normal smear test results.  I wondered what sort of fiasco was going on with smear testing – was there incompetence, was someone not doing their job, was there another Bottrill case brewing? 

All this made me pick up the recent Listener (Feb13-19 edition) because of a heading on the cover:” Cancer Test controversy – why you can’t rely on screening to save your life.”  The article was a bit of an eye opener for me as I had misunderstood cancer testing to be fairly full proof.  I was not aware that false results are quite common with cancer screening and that these are not really evidence of negligence as such but are simply a reflection of the limitations of cancer testing.   As the Listener article stated: “About 21 women are likely to  develop cervical cancer each year despite being screened.”  According to Breastscreen Aotearoa “if 1000 women aged 50 to 69 have a mammogram very two years for 20 years, seven will have their lives saved, nine will end up with breast cancer that wasn’t detected by screening and 13 will die despite being screened.”  According to the National Screening Unit, women aged 50 – 69 reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer from 1.42% to 1 % with regular mammograms.  All that boob squashing and anxiety for 0.42%.  And for you blokes, well prostate cancer testing  is probably the most unreliable of all – this time with too many false positives – a large European study is reported to have found that as many as half of all men with screen detected prostate cancer may be being treated unnecessarily.  And I gather that this treatment is no fun either!  It surprised me that testing was so inaccurate.  Don’t get me wrong, I still value cancer screening tests immensely because  there’s no doubt it does save lives – but it’s not full proof.  The New Zealand Cancer Society warn in the Listener article that while they support screening they don’t want it to lead to complacency – in other words, you can’t afford to ignore  symptoms and lifestyle changes just because your test results showed no cancer.  

And then there are the cases of aggressive cancer that strike during the interval between screenings that simply can’t be stopped with current treatment options.   This is the reality Annabel had to face and she was remarkable in the way she accepted this and just got on with making the best of her situation.  She had a very strong Christian faith and she really did trust that God had everything under control.  Even the minister, Rev Michael Treston, said he went to offer her hope but she already had bucket-loads and it did overflow – again she was one the giving.  At her funeral service Michael openly said he could not answer the question of why – an honest answer that I appreciated.  He said it was part of the mystery of God. 

I have another friend who has just had her first child , a little girl who ironically she has named Annabelle.  It’s a lovely name that means ‘beauty and grace’.    The miracle of a new life is just as mind-boggling as the way someone can just be gone from this Earth.   

And so this mysterious thing we call life goes on…

(gee that was getting a bit much… think I need a glass of wine 😉 )


The Hangover!

 Well it has taken almost a week to get around to the ‘post-party post’…ahhhh I’m getting too old for 4 am bedtimes!!  For those who have seen the movie, The Hangover, the woolshed looked a little similar the morning after our first ever Fiasco party – only there was nothing funny about having a baby to entertain all day and the angry tiger went by the name of Richard, asleep in the shed corner until we gave the drums a blast at 9 am!

I’m pretty sure a great night was had by all but of course ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ and I can say no more other than that the band Remastered were fantastic, the dance floor got a hammering and the woolshed is still standing despite Mr Fiasco’s antics.    We did have plans of speeches at one point but somehow they never eventuated :-).  There were also many folk we didn’t get the chance to have a decent chat with soooooo please know that we loved your company and thank you for coming along.  We also wanted to give a big shout out to our folks for the use of the shed and to all our wider family and friends for their ongoing encouragement and support of Fiasco Wines.  I’ve thrown in some random photos … might have to make it an annual event me thinks!

and eventually….the aftermath…what happened to our classy wine launch?? 😉


Party time!

To our friends and family, to frontline players and sideline supporters, to those who help make Fiasco and those who help drink it…

We’re having a party and you’re invited! 

WHEN?  Saturday January 23rd kicking off @ 7 pm

WHERE?  The old red woolshed in our backyard – go right to the end of Blicks Lane (no 69, off Old Renwick Rd ) in the sunshine capital of Blenheim. 

The Woolshed among the Vines

WHAT?  A chance to get together and have a bit of fun.  There will be plenty of our 09 Fiasco wine to taste and we’ve booked the brilliant local lads of the ‘Remastered’ band to keep the music pumping and to stir up a few dance floor fiascos!   This will be a casual event – there’s no need to break out the black tie and be warned heels could lead to fiascos in the shearing shed!

DO I NEED TO BRING ANYTHING?  Ummmm, those who came to our last big party a good decade or two ago may feel the need to bring a fire extinguisher (there’s nothing like burning down the venue to create a fiasco!), but other than that a plate for supper would be most appreciated and any beverages other than our wine that you may wish to consume.  If you’ve come from away you may wish to stay the night and risk ‘Azza’s bbq brunch to cure any hangover’- feel free to bring a tent and pitch it in the paddock, otherwise you’re welcome to take your chances in the battle for the beds/couches at our place which is a stone’s throw from the woolshed.  Alternatively there’s some fancy accomodation just a few metres down the road at Walnutblock Cottages and of course there are loads of motels in town (about 3 km).

RSVP?  Would be most appreciated to help us set up and sort wine etc.  Just e-mail or drop us a text on 0273048245 or a call on 035782636


Baby Fiascos!

We have become an Aunty & Uncle again with my sister Abbie (our super graphic designer) and her husband Ross having just brought beautiful wee Anna into the world.  It’s been a bit of thrill for the family to have another girl as after our daughter Tahlia’s birth in 97, my parents have had six grandsons born.  So it’s nice to know we do still have the recipe ;-).  Of course the birth wasn’t without its fiascos, Nelson hospital were flat out and Abbie went into labour at exactly the time her midwife was away for a couple of hours at a funeral.  After finally getting some assistance she headed for the birthing pool for a bit of natural pain relief, only to decide she didn’t want to get out and as such Anna was an unplanned water-birth!  A bit of a fiasco but all are well and I’m afraid she was well and truly ‘out fiascoed’ by our good friend Julie of St Clair Wines who had her baby boy the same day…in the car in busy traffic in Sydney!!!  Check out Jule’s adventures here.   I think you girls both deserve a bottle of Fiasco, with the condition that you call in and collect it so we can cuddle your babies!


Fiasco! Local bloke nailed by the The Rock

Especially for the locals – this link will take you to The Rock radio station’s prank  pulled on a Marlburian.  Go there and click on the listen now (Dive tanks story) – actually it’s pretty funny whether you know the guy or not!  Crikey we don’t take any crap here in Blenheim 😉


‘Full on’

One of the reasons we went with the name ‘Fiasco Wines’ is that we wanted something that reflected the action and vibrancy of making wine in Marlborough.  A ‘place name’ label  just seemed too sedentary to do justice to the reality. 

Before gaining first hand knowledge of the industry here, when thinking of winemaking I’d get pictures in my head of  little vineyards on hillsides, people carrying grapes in baskets and a wrinkled old man fluffing around over old barrels doing tastings.  I guess this was based on what I’d heard of Old World winemaking and it all seemed pretty slow paced and somewhat romantic.  But the reality couldn’t be more different.  There is state of the art technology; a myriad of different types of people working in the industry and the year just flies by with all that needs doing.  Harvesting the grapes is all action, with harvesters and wineries operating 24 hours a day throughout March, April and May.  Then there are a massive number of hectares needing pruning and hundreds of workers brought in from overseas to cope with the workload – so June to August is all go.  Then the new spring buds burst in September and frost fighting starts – with frost a very real risk until November.   There is some amazing technology involved in this and those on the job are often up half the night checking data and making the tough decisions on what action to take – helicopters and wind fans are not cheap and their noise causes a stir with the locals.  This time of year is also time to bottle and label the 2009 wines.  Ours are being bottled later this month.  The end of the year is busy for sales – with all the social events that come with Christmas, summer and general celebrations.  So I suggested to Aaron that early 2010 we should have a chance to have a breather and a Fiasco Wines party in the old woolshed on the vineyard.  “Sure,” said Aaron but don’t forget we’ll only be 8 weeks or so from harvest then!


Fiascos in the Sounds

Apologies for the lack of posts lately – we  have gib stoppers and painters in our house at the moment so have evacuated to the Marlborough Sounds.   We have often wondered what it would be like to live here fulltime and this has been our chance to give it a go – Mum & Dad’s bach is boat access only from Havelock and Aaron has been trialling commuting back into Blenheim to the winery a couple of days a week.  The trip takes about an hour and a half from the time you shut the backdoor in town, till you tie up to the end of the jetty here.  We are also trying out mobile broadband on our laptop so that we can keep up with e-mails, wine orders etc. 

And how has it been so far?  Well it goes without saying that we’ve had our share of fiascos – some funny and some not so funny.  Our poor little beagle managed to chomp into bait hanging off Finn’s fishing line and put a barbed fish-hook through her lip.  It was no easy job for Aaron to have to push the hook right through to remove it. Yooowwwwwouch! 

And then there was Aaron’s departure yesterday – it came up really gusty and rainy.  He attempted to row out to the boat  in the dinghy (really putting his Indevin rowing team skills to the test 🙂 ) and after a long battle of five metres forward, three metres back, one metre sideways – he made it to our fizz boat on the mooring and waved goodbye victoriously.    Five minutes later we hear the sound of the boat returning – alas he is back.  We assumed he must have gotten around the point and decided the sea was too rough.  However the problem was his memory, or should I say his eyesight!  The boat is bobbing about in the small storm with Aaron yelling, “I forgot my car keys!”  “Find my car keys!”  “Can one of the kids bring down the keys?”  After much searching and yelling back and forth, we hear, “Ahhhh, I had them all along” and he takes off – even faster than before! 

But fiascos aside it has been pretty cool hanging out here with the kids.  The weather has been a bit disappointing but we’ve still done a bit of  fishing, hill walking, possum hunting, and lazing in the outdoors hot tub.  We’ve coped with the rain by cooking, playing board games and painting rocks ($2 shop fabric paint works a treat 🙂 )  At times it feels a bit isolated – times like at night when it’s pitch black, stormy outside and you know you have no way out of here.  But with modern technology it’s really easy to connect.  We have cellphone coverage and the mobile broadband has worked surprisingly well and lets us do plenty (as long as gaming and movies are avoided) – and its free until Feb as part of the plan we’ve signed up to.    We’ve also had visitors over the weekend.  I can now see why folk that live in the Sounds get excited when the mail-boat arrives with supplies.  It was most exciting to see new faces and find new food ;-).   We have a week to go and I hope it doesn’t go too fast.  If you’re out and about in the Sounds or want to be picked up from Havelock to come out for a visit – then let me know, you are most welcome!

Back at the winery it is almost time to bottle our 2009 wine and Aaron is busy getting another export order off to Aussie.  Our sales have picked up there which is encouraging.  Our distributor in Australia tells us those he supplies would love to meet the winemaker so it looks like there might be a trip across the Tasman on the cards.

June 2019
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