Vineyard celebration overdue
Mayor Len Brown is pledging his support for Waiheke Vintage Festival’s position on the wider Auckland events’ map.
He was speaking to a receptive crowd at the launch of the inaugural festival at Goldie Vineyard on March 25, saying the island is famed for its outstanding vintages.
‘‘I have to wonder why it’s taken so long for a festival like this to come along. We totally support it. We have stepped up on delivering great events in Auckland – and this is part of it.’’
The launch, hosted by John Hawkesby, was attended by members of the wine industry, corporate sponsors and dignitaries including MP Nikki Kaye.
Waiheke Winegrowers’ Association president Rob Meredith says the festival, which involves 24 members, has been 18 months in the making.
‘‘We hope it will be an annual event. We think of Waiheke Island as Auckland’s winegrowing region.
‘‘The festival is an opportunity for the Auckland public to embrace and learn about Waiheke wine.’’
Meredith says Waiheke is now also firmly established on the world wine map.
‘‘We punch well above our weight in terms of awards and trophies.’’
Hawkesby invited ‘‘the Godfather of Waiheke wine’’ Kim Goldwater to cut the ribbon and launch the festival after a performance by The Festival Dancers.
He and the mayor gave Kim and Jeanette Goldwater a special mention for planting the first vines on Waiheke Island in 1977 and for the gift of their vineyard to the University of Auckland as a training institute.
A huge bunch of balloons the colour of purple grapes was released to mark the occasion.