Manawatu¯ win­ery closes cel­lar door

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - What’s On - SAM KILMIS­TER

They planted rows of grapes with a dream of start­ing a win­ery – and they pulled it off.

Nearly 20 years later they’re mov­ing on, clos­ing the cel­lar door of an es­tab­lished Manawatu¯ win­ery, the only one in the prov­ince.

In 2000, with lit­tle in the way of hor­ti­cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, Fiona McMor­ran, Bron­wyn Dy­mock and hus­band Nick turned their 4-hectare life­style block in the pic­turesque Po­hang­ina Val­ley, 23 kilo­me­tres from Palmer­ston North, into a flour­ish­ing lit­tle busi­ness.

Po­hang­ina Val­ley Es­tate’s three own­ers will re­tire in April and the vine­yard will not be sold.

McMor­ran said sus­tain­ing a win­ery in Manawatu¯ ’s cli­mate was no mean feat. The trio faced sev­eral chal­lenges to grow their brand in an area not known for its bloom­ing viti­cul­ture.

While Nick was based at the vine­yard full-time, sis­ters Fiona and Bron­wyn jug­gled full-time jobs – Fiona, an em­ploy­ment re­la­tions man­ager at Massey Univer­sity, and Bron­wyn, a vet in Feild­ing.

In sum­mer months it wasn’t un­til they got home that the real work be­gan.

‘‘It is hard work,’’ McMor­ran said. ‘‘The big­gest chal­lenge for the vine­yard was es­tab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion in a non-grape­grow­ing area.

‘‘It’s been a huge learn­ing curve for us, but we’re just get­ting a bit old.’’

De­spite the odds, the win­ery forged a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion. Its first in­dus­try medal came in 2004 for its pinot gris, lead­ing to a land­slide of awards in Hong Kong, Aus­tralia and the pres­ti­gious New Zealand Bra­gato wine com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘We en­tered a lot of com­pe­ti­tions to prove our wine was good.’’

Since then, it’s pro­duced on av­er­age 16 tonnes of grapes a year – that’s 12,000 bot­tles of wine.

McMor­ran said a large part of the vine­yard’s suc­cess was down to wine­maker Chris Bur­ing, based out of Oak House in Mart­in­bor­ough.

Un­der Bur­ing’s guid­ance, the vine­yard had re­leased pinot gris, pinot noir and chardon­nay, but over the years dab­bled with sev­eral other blends, in­clud­ing the unique Beau­jo­lais-style red called To­tara Re­serve – named af­ter a re­serve in the Po­hang­ina Val­ley.

McMor­ran said dur­ing its 2008 re­lease the re­serve had been dam­aged by floods and heavy snow­storms.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Nick Dy­mock with his unique To­tara Re­serve red wine.

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