Some of the Recent Visitors to Misha’s Vineyard

Although we don’t operate a cellar door, we still have quite a few visitors to Misha’s Vineyard. And they’re never short visits – the shortest being at least a couple of hours and the longest – a week!

Our office is in Cromwell (behind our house) and our vineyard is about 10 minutes away at Bendigo. Well actually once you take into account the 3km long driveway and the various gates, it’s more like 15 mins trip. If we have a visitor who wants to see the vineyard (and that generally means a trade or media visitor), they come to our office and we put them in one of our four-wheel drive vehicles and then head up to the vineyard.

US Wine Blogger Blake Grey tries a Misha's Vineyard Pinot Noir.
US Wine Blogger Blake Grey tries a Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Our tour usually starts from a lookout above our top vineyard block which provides the best view of vineyard (although you still can’t see all of it from there) but it’s also a great place to view Cromwell Basin where 70% of the grapes are grown in this region. Then we head down into the mid levels of the vineyard and usually stop at the top of ski slope as the view down the slope and to the lake is incredibly dramatic. We often make our visitors walk down ski slope so they really understand why our pickers only pick downhill on this slope and then get bussed up to the top of the hill to pick downhill again. We then show various spots on the vineyard depending on people’s interest but usually finish in our old gold miner ruins on the top block where we talk about the land’s Chinese history. Our estate is 57 hectares so there’s quite a bit to see on the tour!

We’ve had some interesting visitors so far this year including San Francisco-based W. Blake Grey who’s a well-regarded independent writer, winning the Roederer Award for Best Online Wine Writer. He publishes The Gray Report and contributes to many publications and sites. Our introduction to Blake was at dinner at Two Paddocks who was hosting him for an evening and Jacqui Murphy kindly invited us along. We had a great time over dinner and got to know Blake, making our vineyard visit with him the following day very relaxed!

Terry Mulligan and Andy do a sun salute on the hill overlooking the vineyard (Pic - Chris So)
Terry Mulligan and Andy do a sun salute on the hill overlooking the vineyard (Pic – Chris So)
We also hosted the affable Terry Mulligan who’s a Vancouver-based host and producer of Tasting Room Radio – a one hour weekly program about food, wine and winemakers and also co-hosts a show about wine called “Hollywood and Wines”. Terry was delightful and was visiting New Zealand to specifically focus on sustainability so wanted to learn about what programs we run on the vineyard in support of our sustainability goals.

Some of the things Terry was interested in on the vineyard were:

Project Gold – our involvement in the planting of native gold kowhais – which used to be prevalent in Central Otago before the land was stripped of natives for grazing land a century and a half ago
Recycling winery waste – to produce compost which increases the organic composition of our soils – we blend the grape marc with straw and sheep manure from under the shearing shed of Bendigo Station, to make our compost – and this has increased our worm population too.
Cover crops – we have an interrow planting program to help bind our fragile soils, and increase OM (organic matter) in our soils through careful selection of deep rooted grasses. This also increases the beneficial insects to the vineyard

We had fun doing the radio interviews with Terry – and he commented he’d taped more than he normally does! (Was that a polite way of saying I talk too much? )

Chris So at the "Magpies" pre-harvest party at Quartz Reef winery.
Chris So at the “Magpies” pre-harvest party at Quartz Reef winery.
We have also had Chris So from Hong Kong stay with us for a week. Chris visited us for a couple of days last year and wanted to return this year to hone up on his viticulture and early winemaking knowledge as that’s the topic of his 4th and final MW exam which he will sit in June. Having passed his Master of Wine Practical exam (ie 3 blind tastings), and 3 out of 4 of his theory exams, he doesn’t have too many hurdles to jump before his final dissertation/research paper and hopefully the reward of an MW title!

Chris joined us at the end of March and was hoping we would have started the harvest – but alas, it was still too early. So Chris spent a couple of days with Rudi Bauer at Quartz Reef who picks Pinot Noir earlier than many other vineyards in order to make his sparkling wines. Chris also spent a few days with Olly, our winemaker, at the vineyard tasting grapes for many hours and understanding what Olly was looking for in terms of flavour development and how he determined the picking schedule. He also had the opportunity of helping Olly with the final blends of our various 2013 vintage Pinot Noirs and really enjoyed that! We wish Chris the best of luck for his 4th Master of Wine theory exam!

Judy & Richard
Judy & Richard
We’ve had various other trade visitors so far this year but we did also enjoy a visit by Judy and Richard – a couple we met at the South Island Food & Wine Festival a couple of years back who tried our wines there and have become very big fans and were really keen to see the vineyard. They were in the area on a short holiday so we took them up the vineyard and gave them the full tour and they were delighted! It really is a spectacular location.

I wish we were able to show more people our piece of paradise but when we’re out on the vineyard doing tours, there’s no one in the office doing the sales and marketing activities! So we’ll just have to keep posting lots of photos of the vineyard and give people a ‘virtual experience’!