Seventh Excerpt – Winegrower

By 2005 we were actively looking to other options to grow our business. We needed outside expertise and capital to assist the growth of sales both within New Zealand and in export markets. We particularly needed specialist input in the areas of distribution and marketing. We never connected with the right people – despite our best efforts. Over the years we had 4 different distributors represent our Fiddler’s Green brand within New Zealand. I have to say, that none of them lived up to their own hype and expectations for what they could achieve for our brand. Commission agents, too, came and went without much success. We experienced similar issues with our export markets: UK, the Netherlands, the Cook Islands, and Australia, all failed to perform after strong initial orders. Other markets pursued were Brazil, Japan, and the USA – all to no avail. We were never able to achieve strong distribution relationships, to the detriment of our brand and business. On the other hand, our direct sales achievements within the Canterbury region and mail order continued to be strong.

In that same year we planted another small block of 1100 grafted rootstock gewürztraminer vines, in an area on the eastern side of the reservoir. The scion wood was the French clones 456 and 457. Again, the row and plant spacings were as for the first block planted in 2004, and with the same management regime. This block, too, produced small volumes of stunning fruit which was sold to Glasnevin Wine Estates for their own brand.

The weather for the 2006/2007 season was a mixed bag. Again, in December of 2006 cold and wet weather descended upon the vineyards of the Waipara Valley. With a poor flowering and fruit set, we were faced with a reduced crop for yet another harvest in 2007. The one consolation was the high quality of the wines produced from these low cropping vintages. Both the Fiddler’s Green 2003 Pinot Noir and the Fiddler’s Green 2007 Riesling were awarded Gold medals in New Zealand wine shows.

Over the years we were fortunate to have a number of our wines selected for Air New Zealand International in-flight Premier Business class service. The wines chosen were our Fiddler’s Green 2001 Riesling, Fiddler’s Green 2004 Pinot Noir, Fiddler’s Green 2006 Chardonnay, and Fiddler’s Green 2006 Pinot Noir. These were always good contracts: the volumes ordered were significant for us, they were treated as export sales and free of excise duty, and the airline always paid promptly direct to our bank account.


BARRY JOHNS ( aka Le Vigneron )