Marlborough viticulturist bound for Napa Valley
Ollie Davidson discovered it is a difficult task to pack 30 years of living in Marlborough into 272 kilograms of air freight, destined for the United States.
The viticulturist is saying goodbye to the region as he departs for a new role in the US’ most famous wine region, the Napa Valley in California, on Friday.
‘‘It’s amazing how much you accumulate after living in the same house for 10 years,’’ he says.
Following several months of planning and numerous farewell parties, he and wife Bridget say they are overwhelmed to be on the move.
Ollie will depart Constellation Brands New Zealand for a promotion with its parent company as the vice president of global viticulture. The job will see him oversee the operation of vineyards in New Zealand, Italy and the United States.
‘‘The opportunity to work across three countries is unique and pretty attractive.’’
Ollie has seen Marlborough develop into an internationally acclaimed wine region in his three decades growing grapes, which he has done for Dog Point Vineyards, Cloudy Bay and, for the past 15 years, Constellation.
‘‘Brand Marlborough is strong. It’s very exciting to see New Zealand sauvignon dominate the market and we still have room to grow,’’ he said.
The Kiwi can-do attitude is one aspect Ollie is excited to bring to his new job, and he is looking forward to introducing new techniques to global vineyards.
The couple will make their new home in St Helena, a town of 6000. Ollie says he is hoping the town will not be too dissimilar to Blenheim. ‘‘We have loved making our home here and love Blenheim. I’ll miss the Marlborough Sounds,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a great place to raise kids and I think it is very under-rated. It’s the kind of place where you feel safe walking down the street and know everyone.’’
The couple have two sons, William, 24 and Jacob, 21, who are also working in the Marlborough wine industry, and plan to stay put, for now. Ollie’s wife Bridget will join him on the adventure and says she is looking forward to a new challenge in life.
‘‘We’re young enough and silly enough to do it. It is sinking in and I’m going to miss the kids but we’re really looking forward to getting over there.’’
Constellation Brands New Zealand managing director Simon Towns says he wishes Davidson well in the new job.
‘‘I have enjoyed working with Ollie and am glad that we will continue to benefit from his knowledge and expertise.’’
Ollie’s role in New Zealand will be split in two, with James Nightingale and David Sheard taking on new positions.
The Davidsons says they aimed to return to Marlborough at least annually.
Bridget and Ollie Davidson will now call St Helena, in the Napa Valley, home.