Archive for the 'Wine' Category


Getting on top of things again…

What a great feeling it is to have the pruning all done and dusted for another year.  We finished cutting, stripping and tying down (went through almost 10 000 ties) the last of our vines a week or so ago.  Our sincere thanks go out again to those who pitched in and gave us a hand when morale began to fail …somewhere around vine 3899 with a cold southerly blowing the ties from your pouch and rain falling yet again.  To Grandpop Noel, to my wonderful friend Sarah, to the ever energetic Geoff and to Emilien the friendly froggie…your hard work and great company were so appreciated.  It always amazes me that there are people out there who are happy to lend a hand when there’s nothing in it for them and no great cause, other than to help out a mate. 🙂   Thanks to our kids too for helping out and putting up with weekend after weekend of boredom, or as in Archie’s case – time spent mastering his walking up and down the rows.  However, it hasn’t been all bad – there were some beautiful days out in the vineyard where I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.  Dad has Dexter cows in the paddock next door and three baby calves were born as we pruned!  And while there’s been crappy weather too – it’s not like we’ve been in Christchurch.  Our heart goes out to all the Cantabs and if any of you need a break from the shaky city, let us know as there’s always room around here for extras. What else can I say other than, may your next fiasco be a wine! 

Speaking of the earthquake, we experienced our own firsthand consequence of the quake earlier this week when we bottled our 2010 wines.  There was a delay in getting the labels here from Christchurch which meant we had to bottle the wine without them – labels are over-rated anyway aren’t they, isn’t consumer choice all about cost at the end of the day?  There are details on the label though that legally must be displayed so alas we will put the cleanskins (naked wine bottles)  back through the bottling line on Tuesday to get labelled.  Ironically we had the name “Shaky Isles Wines” trademarked before deciding to go with Fiasco.  I guess both are somewhat appropriate give the state of Christchurch.

I suspect everyone is now ready for the Spring to arrive.  The buds on our vines haven’t burst yet and it’s always a bit of fun predicting when they will.    Although it is September, when you make wine it feels like this is the start of the year – when there is new growth and the whole cycle starts again.  Happy New Year all 🙂


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.


Injury fiasco to kick off vintage

Aaron is now on night shift…got a text from him Saturday night saying:

 “At hos hurt hand got 11 stitches, may need skin graft, all good tho, dont panic.”

He is of course aware that I’m prone to panic when anyone gets injured!  Anyway turns out he managed to take off a chunk of skin at the base of his thumb while in the process of showing the new vintage staff how to change a filter.  It’s all stitched up now…not quite Aaron’s idea of getting sewn up on a Saturday night 😉 but mending well.  

I thought he might of had some time off but it was straight back from hospital to the winery (I still blame Buck Shelford … Aaron has long been in awe of his continuing to play rugby with a torn scrotum!).   There is a real commitment to hard work over vintage that I havent seen in many other industries.  People will put everything aside and work their guts out.  They will work through the night, they will not take a day off for over a month and they will work 100 hour weeks if necessary.  Many staff are on salaries so there’s not even the incentive of extra large pay packets for all those long hours.  There is an understanding that it is only for about six weeks, that the job must be done and that it’s just part of life in the wine industry.  I am often amazed that in these days of the rights of the individual that no-one complains or that a union of some sort hasn’t evolved.   I’m guessing it might be different if the industry were city based but here in Marlborough there are still bloody hard workers who put the needs of the businesses they work for before their own.


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 🙂


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!

‘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!


Fiasco and a Big Mac!


imagesbigmacFiasco Sav Blanc 1_1_4

You know you’ve made it to the top when your wine is matched with a Big Mac – would have been seriously gutted if we’d been matched to a cheap ol cheeseburger! 

But seriously, why not enjoy a great wine with a takeaway treat?  Loved that good down to earth piece Jayson and thanks for the mention  🙂

June 2019
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