The nitty gritty of winemaking
This story was originally published in Winepress Magazine and is republished with permission. It is the first in our series called Gen Y-ine.
Edward Macdonald’s first job at Hunter’s Wines was cleaning the pool and mowing the lawns.
The son of general manager Peter Macdonald and nephew of Managing Director Jane Hunter spent many weekends and school holidays at the Rapaura Rd winery, soon graduating to vineyard work and tractor driving.
During university holidays Edward came back to do cellar work, but says there was never any expectation he would step into the family business.
‘‘It was almost the opposite. There was certainly never any pressure on me to work here.’’
The Macdonald family moved to Marlborough in 1991, when Peter came to help Jane run the business, after her husband Ernie Hunter died in 1987.
Peter’s son James, now Hunter’s chief winemaker, was 4 at the time and Edward was born in Marlborough, making him ‘‘the only true Kiwi in the family’’.
The brothers went to Marlborough Boys’ College before heading off down different career paths – James following the winemaking route at Lincoln University and Edward heading to Victoria University to do his Bachelor of Commerce.
After finishing his degree, he went to London, but returned with his partner when the right job came up at Hunter’s.
‘‘The timing was right – our visas were running out and the lease on our flat was coming up. We were sick of the hustle and bustle of London and never having any money. The time seemed right to return home to Marlborough – we wanted to have animals and buy our own house.’’
He returned home and moved into the administrative coordinator role at Hunter’s, where he still works today and is responsible for the numbers side of the business, including juggling the logistics of the company’s bottling line, accounts and exports.
Edward has also taken on a marketing role and is responsible for Hunter’s social media profile.
While many youngsters who grow up on vineyards tend to step into the winemaking or viticultural side, Edward was happy to leave that to James.
‘‘I like the idea of an office. While some would say it’s not as sexy as winemaking, I find it quite fulfilling,’’ he says. ‘‘The winery didn’t appeal. I like the financial and budgeting aspects – the nitty gritty side of it.’’
He particularly enjoys the challenge of world markets and seeing how businesses survive, particularly in tough times.
Being family doesn’t mean an easy ride, Edward says.
‘‘In fact, I think we have to work harder to prove ourselves ... we are constantly on call.
‘‘There are pros and cons and this role certainly wasn’t created for me – it became available and I had the right skills.’’
The brothers have quite different roles but clearly complement one another, he says.
‘‘He’s got his team and I’ve got mine ... we are both big foodies and very much into wine – we both had such a good advantage in terms of growing up in the industry.’’
Despite his family being knee-deep in viticulture, Edward Macdonald says there was never any pressure for him to work in the business.