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Back from Australia

We’ve returned from a trip to Australia that involved a mixture of business and pleasure.  It began with a random meeting with John Key at the Blenheim airport  –  he came over for a chat…only in New Zealand!   In Aussie, it was great to meet our distributor and to see Fiasco on the menu is some Brisbane restaurants.  In Brisbane there are numerous new restaurants opening every week so the sheer opportunity was refreshing.  The warm Northern Queensland climate also made Townsville very appealing.  We had to laugh at the ‘Beating the mid-winter blues” article in the local paper when it had been 27 C and sunny for days.  

It has been a reality check coming back home to where the wine industry and the economy in general are still facing hard times.  It’s grey, cold, wet and we have thousands of vines to prune and unpaid bills to chase up.  We have friends at the moment who have lost jobs through ‘restructuring’ and others whose wine based businesses have hit the wall.   I know there are those in Blenheim who will feel no sympathy for the stress being experienced by those in the wine industry, but regardless the ripple effect will move through our whole community.    When one bill is left unpaid, the next guy struggles to pay his and so on.    We feel such sympathy for those who have lost jobs and/or their businesses but know they are resilient, hard working and positive thinking people who will find new opportunities.

I am an optimist and do believe that things will stabilise.  And surprisingly, I do still prefer New Zealand to Australia.   We don’t have half as many poisonous creatures, a lack of marked seasons gets a bit boring, our native bush is awesome in comparison, we make better Savvy and hopefully Saturday will prove our rugby boys are superior!


Coming out of the vintage haze…

Well I’ve reached an all time low in blogging efforts – almost down to one a month!  The months of March, April and May are always very busy for us as Aaron works fulltime for Indevin (an independent wine making company) and his hours are long.  As a consequence we feel like we are the bloke on our logo – running on a  moving wine barrel, only we need to get that wine glass back in hand!    We have discovered that having your own wine label means there are never-ending tasks to do –  contract growers can pause and celebrate the fact the their fruit is harvested and a cheque from the wine company is on the way, however we have a much longer road ahead.    At the moment our focus is on making the wine and getting labels and bottling sorted, pruning is just around the corner and sales and marketing need to be constantly worked on.  

On the upside we are going to Brisbane soon to meet our distributor there and see how sales are going…tax deductible Gold Coast – I knew there had to be some perks!   It’s great exporting to Australia because for us there is a lot less labour shipping in bulk than marketing and selling small volumes via multiple outlets here in NZ.  There is also the advantage of being able to claim back the WET tax.  ‘Wet’ seems a funny name for a tax, especially for a drink – but it actually stands for Wine Equalisation Tax.  In 2000 the Australian government added this 29% tax to its wine and when wine producers there went mad they decided that producers could claim this tax back for their first million dollars worth of wine sold each year.  This ability to claim it back was later extended to New Zealand wine producers.

We also need to visit Auckland again soon to touch base with the outlets selling Fiasco there.  We have recently added our wine to the menu list at The Falls – an awesome cafe/restaurant in West Auckland.  We had an all day brunch there at the end of last year and I can personally vouch for the high standard of service from Allan and his team (five stars from me and I don’t do that often!).  Aside from tax deductible travel, the other main advantage of having your own label is the buzz of tasting and sharing an end-product that you have produced.  One of our Sauvignon Blanc ferments finished today so will soon be filtered, bottled and on its way to the shop shelves.  It is tasting beautiful at this stage –  Aaron tells me it will be our best yet.  I’ll let you know when I’ve tried it – am sure women have far superior taste buds to men.


Marlborough Wine festival sold out

This year’s Marlborough Wine Festival has officially sold out of its 8000 tickets (although there are some floating about on Trade Me).  I was interested to see how sales would go as there seems to be an ever increasing number of events competing for the party goer’s dollar.  

 Thousands of New Zealanders went to see ACDC last week including Aaron and Tahlia – I heard an estimate reported on Radio Live that one in forty Kiwis attended the concerts which seems an incredible statistic.   I brought a couple of tickets for Aaron and I back when I was pregnant and under the assumption that I would be able to leave little Archie for the weekend.  I think given the age gap between Archie and Finn I must’ve had selective memory regarding the difficulties with that scenario when breast feeding!  Anyway, much to Tahlia’s delight the concert was a great opportunity for a bit of father-daughter bonding and was somewhat educational… she now knows what dope smells like and how some women are happy to bare their boobs for all!

Tahlia discovered that a school uniform can be cool even if it’s your brother’s and Aaron rediscovered his inner bogan (not too far in! 😉 ) finally finding an excuse to buy a pair of black jeans again.  Thanks to Amie & Paul for this pic and for putting them up in Wellie.

But I digress, I was discussing the multitude of events now competing with our Wine & Food Festival.  We have just had our Blenheim ‘Brews Blues and BBQs’ and ticket sales were well down.   Perhaps ACDC fans are bigger beer drinkers than wine and this concert may’ve drained the bank accounts of those who would usually attend the Blues and Brews.  Others would like to suggest that the drop was due to serious beer drinkers boycotting the event due to this year’s change from serving beer up in glasses to tacky plastic vessels.  The Wine Festival has retained glass (thank goodness) and they still sold out! 

Some locals are also choosing to bypass the Wine Festival for the More FM Winery Tour on the night before at Villa Maria.  But a large proportion of Wine Festival ticket buyers are from out of the region and that’s great news from a marketing perspective.  Many Kiwis are travelling from away despite the fact that the Liqourland Beer Festival is on the same day in Auckland and has just been held in Wellington, while Waiheke Island has just held a wine festival.   So well done to the Marlborough Wine Festival for continuing to draw people to our region to try our vino!  Sadly Fiasco Wines will not be at the festival though – the flip side of the festival’s popularity is a waiting list to have a site there.  However we are not too concerned as it can be quite costly for a small business to afford a site and all Marlborough wines must get some benefit from the way the event markets our region as the wine capital of New Zealand.  If you’re going along – have a great day!


On a ship bound for Australia …

We are increasingly selling our wine in Australia.  Prior to setting up Fiasco Wines neither Aaron & I had exported anything (except ourselves on our big OE…that incidently turned into a big TUM-E …a fiasco for another post perhaps!) sooooo exporting our wine has been a steep learning curve.  It has also surprised me how satisfying it has been.  Firstly there is knowing that you are actually bringing money into the New Zealand economy for the good of all and secondly, it’s intriguing to think of the fruit from our backyard being swirled around in the glass of a Queenslander many miles away. 

Our wine is being distributed in Australia by Mark Lawson of the Fluid Liquor group, and is mainly being sold in Brisbane restaurants.  For any  & Sunshine coast  locals/visitors reading this, it’s available at BottlO’Brien’s Liquor Store, at Cafe Arabica, at Hyatt Regency Coolum, at the Jordaan Restaurant & Bar, Rhapsody Cafe & Restaurant, River Deck, That Thai Restaurant and soon to be released at a chain of pizza/pasta restaurants. 

I can’t wait to visit Australia next year and wander into one of these places – will be quite a buzz.  The cool thing is that consumers too can use the internet to link straight from the web address on the bottle to this blog and find out exactly where their wine has come from and who has been involved in making it etc.   We hope to go and meet some of our Australian customers next year.  Our daughter Tahlia was born in Alice Springs too so we have always promised her a return visit so she can check out the place of her arrival into the world.

But for now its just the wine headed for Oz, departing on a ship from Lyttleton tomorrow

Vessel:        MSC Santhya 949
ETD:        03/12
ETA:        20/12

Here’s hoping the seas are smooth and there are no fiascos along the way 🙂


Fiasco gets arty…

wanda harland

Someone new we have met through Twitter is Martha Craig who makes beautiful kidswear – sold with all sorts of other goodies on her Babylicious website and through her Petone shop named ‘Wanda Harland’.    Martha is also having a go at an art gallery – with Fiasco Wines served at the opening of course!   So if you are in Wellington go and check out Wanda Harland, say Fiasco Wines sent you and she’s sure to give you a discount… mmm probably should’ve okayed that with Martha ;-).   But seriously, I can vouch for the goods Martha sells as I have purchased from her website and was stoked with both the products and the service – online Christmas shopping made easy 🙂


Archie heading to his first Tweet Up!


A child of our times …  yes Archie is finalising travel arrangements to attend his first Tweet Up at the grand age of 5 months.  For those of you not familiar with Twitter (stop gasping Aucklanders – there are loads of Mainlanders who still feel tweeting is for birds ;-)) it is kind of like texting but you can do it online and can communicate with a worldwide audience – a ‘tweet up’ is when Twitter users ‘meet up’ in the flesh for a bit of socialising and networking (a tax deductible party 🙂 ).  The get together is instigated by a Twitter user(s) and then the details are spread via Twitter.  The Christmas Tweet Up is being held on December 4th from 6pm at Deschler’s Bar in Auckland and is being organised by two lovely tweeters, Jayson Bryant  (owner of a fab little wine shop)and Amie McCarron (very talented contemporary artist). 

Archie, Aaron and I are really looking forward to meeting up with many of those we interact with online, it’s always interesting to meet the face behind the avatar ;-).  Tweet ups are a blast and allow folk to easily get to know new people who they’d never have met in their usual social circles – they certainly challenge the viewpoint that computer social interaction causes a drop in real-life socialising. 

We are really fortunate to have been offered accommodation at a friend’s place (thanks so much Amanda and Rob) and as they have four boys, their house comes armed with kid’s stuff – so need to cart portacots etc up the country – yay!


2009 wine is bottled!

Well we are now officially out of 2008 stock and our 2009 wine is bottled and on the shop shelves.  It is a relief to put our first year behind us after coming up against a recession and an oversupply of wine in the market. 

We are stoked with how our ’09’ wines are tasting –  and of course we aren’t bias ;-).  But then we had expert assistant winemakers – a whoppa thanks to all of you who took part in the blend

The big new one for us is our NASA Sauvignon Blanc – No Added Sulfur Around.  It’s summed up by the blurb on the back of the bottle:

Sometimes we get crazy ideas while we wait around for our beautiful Fiasco fruit to ripen.   How about making a wine without throwing in any of the usual additives and preservatives?  Simply harvest the fruit, coax out the juice, ferment it with yeast, lightly filter, and bottle.  The idea appeared radical but with good clean fruit and careful wine making we knew we could give it a blast.  And so the NASA concept took off –No Added Sulfur Around!  We must confess though – this bottle does contain small amounts of sulphites but only because the wild yeast that arrived in our juice love to produce them naturally.  And we should probably warn you that in time your NASA may form a small amount of sediment -don’t worry its harmless! “

NASA bottle shot

Reflecting back on this time last year, it’s exciting and encouraging to now have some wine outlets approaching us  – instead of rejecting our approaches – understandably as a then unknown new label.  We still have plenty of work to do in getting our Fiasco name out there – but we are making progress and each little step forward is great for the ole motivation.  It is actually quite scary when you stand in the bottling company watching thousands of bottles come off the bottling line – it’s hard not to have moments of panic and thoughts of –  “Crikey can we sell all this?!”  But this time around we have a steady flow of orders and we are ever grateful to all of you who buy our end product – it’s immensely rewarding  to see our year’s work bottled and a real buzz to know it’s being enjoyed by folk all over NZ and increasingly Australia.   Cheers all!

June 2019
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