Between harvests

The road to becoming a winemaker isn't exactly paved. For some (for most?) it's more like a shingle road, with mighty large potholes and meandering detours. 

I started my wine career like many do - as a cellar hand* chasing harvests. We go from one winery to the next and from one hemisphere to the other. When we’re not crushing (processing grapes into wine) we’re usually in the vineyard, or finding odd jobs to make ends meet. It's fun, it’s hard work, it's unsettling and it's necessary if you want to learn the art of winemaking from more than one source.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling the world with wine is an incredible gift. It literally takes you to the most beautiful parts of the world.

I found myself at a crossroads at the end of my last winemaking gig. I had to decide whether to continue the harvest chase and keep hosting events in-between vintages to keep my head above water, or accept a full-time wine marketing job.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but the opportunity to work for one of New Zealand’s best wineries was an offer way too good to pass by. By no means have I stopped my winemaking journey – that is the metaphorical Pan-American Highway. Instead, I’m taking a front row seat in another aspect of the wine biz and will focus on making my own small batches of wine.

Another perk! Having the chance to create a base – which will last longer than a few months - has also given me the chance to start other projects like a vegetable garden!

Watch this space for more events too. They will be happening.

*intern, cellar rat, apprentice, not the winemaker

A North American food and wine adventure

Well it certainly has been a hot minute since I posted anything on here. My apologies for that! It's been a crazy 6 months since the last event. Wine took me back to North America to do a harvest in the Okanagan, Canada. More on that soon!

On the way to my harvest gig, I also got the chance to catch up with friend's from my last Northern Hemisphere harvest in Oregon. Here are just a few snaps.

Santé.

 

 

A good time is better than a perfect event

While I've had a small amount of hospitality experience in the past (including a stint at a silver-service restaurant) I still consider myself an absolute novice when it comes to hospo. I'm telling you this because after a pretty monumental face plant at Saturday's Winefolk event – where I smashed 4 plates and gashed my shin open on an ornamental metal trolley – I felt like I needed to take a good hard look at the current state of our events. If you’ve never been to a Winefolk event, I’ll take a minute to quickly describe them. The first noticeable feature is the ‘look’. We put a lot of time into thinking about where to host our pop-up tastings and what they look like. As soon as you arrive we want you to feel like you’ve stepped into a special occasion. We take bits and pieces from nature to decorate our spaces and try our best to co-ordinate the deco with the season. We like natural light, or soft light – from candles and festoons. We like the little details and simple design. We put a lot of energy into creating this kind of environment because we think it helps us establish the vibe, which is meant to be, for lack of a better description, special and relaxed.

I started hosting these tasting events because I wanted to meet other wine-lovin’ people. I had been to a few tastings prior and, without meaning to sound too critical, I just found them to be a little stale and kind of intimidating. I thought it was a real shame to be tasting such incredible wines but feeling uncomfortable by the atmosphere.

So along with my wine buddy from university, Ben, we started organising tasting events in random places around Central Otago. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. We rallied the people, the funds to buy the wine, and got everyone to bring along a dish of food to share with the group. From the very first event, it has never felt like “work”. I have never worried about pouring wine over someone’s hand or bumping people with my boob while serving their food. Even now that I’m hosting complete strangers and have world-class chefs preparing our food, I’m not nervous about my hospitality skills, because I treat people like my friends and vice versa.

When I had my ‘accident’ on Saturday I wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed. People left their seat at the table and helped me clean up. We all laughed together and continued having a good time. To me, this is the definition of hospitality: reciprocity of kindness and generosity. Winefolk events are not refined, or anywhere near perfect. Maybe you’ll find a finger smudge on your wine glass, or use the same cutlery for every course because we don’t have the budget for multiple sets. What’s important is that we’re all there for the same reason – to drink good wine, eat good food and have a great time together.

Winefolk Supper Club 001

End of Summer Roasted Marrows with Green Tomatoes and Cheese

By Chef Alex Davies

 

I was recently driving out to the organic vegetable farm where I help out, when I really noticed a change in the air. The sky was grey, it drizzled over the landscape and the yellow trees threw their leaves out across the Canterbury plains. Mushrooms were popping up here, there and everywhere. The weekend before we had enjoyed the glorious warmth of late summer sunshine, but the chill in the air made it clear that winter was coming.

The day's task was to clear the tomato and courgette patch, another reminder that winter was on its way, and that the abundance and freshness of summer was over. We cleared the patch so that winter greens and coriander could grow in their place. As we removed plants, we took what was left of the tomatoes, green tomatoes, ones that have never ripened and ones that will never see red. I also harvested what remained of the courgettes that were now glorious full blown marrows. Lorraine and I took our share of what was left before removing the plants to convert into compost for future plant growth and also chicken feed. This dish that follows is how I have interpreted that day and the last of summer's abundance.

Your local growers should be able to find you marrows or green tomatoes but their time frame is limited so enquire quickly!

Ingredients:

3 Medium size Marrows. 

Filling.

1kg Green Tomatoes. 

1 Leek.

1 Bulb garlic.

5 Tbspns Coriander Seed.

1 Bunch Parsley.

1 Cup Bread Crumbs.

200g O.M.G Brie (Canterbury Cheese Mongers)

Salt

Olive Oil (Preferebly Akaroa)

Run your marrow in oil and generously season with salt. Roast the Marrows at 180 degree C until just giving to the touch, this should take about 40 minutes depending on the size.

Whilst the marrow roasts, place the Green tomatoes in a blender or alternativley dice by hand if you have the time for a better texture.

Next dice your leek and garlic, cook on a low temperature in olive oil until they are translucent and smelling amazing.

Toast coriander seeds until aromatic and lightly browned, crush into a powder in a motar and pestle.

Once translucent and smelling as only leeks and garlic can, add your ground coriander seed.

Next add the green tomatoes and cook until the liquid has come out and it is beginning to thicken, it should take 15 - 20 minutes, season liberally with salt.

Once your sauce is made and your marrow roasted, cut the marrow straight down the middle and scoop out the seeds with a desert spoon. The seeds can be reserved for tomorrows sandwiches or an extra addition to a soup.

Put cheese and bread crumbs into a blender to make a cheesey bready mix.

Fill the void with your green tomato sauce and and put cheese crumble over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the grill section of the oven until brown and blacked around the edges.

Feeds 4.

Wine match: Burn Cottage Gruner Veltliner/Riesling 2014

 

Nose: Cinnamon, green leaves, herby, peach, lime. Super complex, lots of layers. Opens up a lot more with warmth and oxygen. Palate: Delicate, acid is very much there in the mid palate but finishes beautifully. Bounces between fruit and acid. Wholesome, round and quenching without being overly rich. 

With the meal: The wine softens tremendously but still has a citrusy edge. The fleshy texture of the squash and the freshness of the wine are a harmonious match. The hint of cheese and chilli are also well paired with the zesty nature of the wine.

Gatherings with Chef Alex Davies

We're super proud of Alex Davies Chef for creating such an amazing pop-up restaurant at Space Academy. He's definitely pushing the boundaries of taste and redefining what meat-free means - both on the plate and for the environment.

Here's a vid we put together from his last Gatherings events (for the summer series)..

We really hope you can check out his winter series which kicks off on May 4. Click here to buy your tickets. And here to read his blog.

FOMO.

It's been hard watching vintage 2016 get underway without me. To combat the FOMO I have been turning my hand to video-making. This is part one of a series that will take you through the whole winemaking process. I hope you enjoy watching the vid as I enjoyed making it!

A big thanks to the team at Greystone for letting me film them. I haven't exactly nailed the subtle "fly-on-the-wall" approach, so apologies if I got in the way!

Wine Wears

Welcome to our new blog series, Wine Wears!! We thought it'd be a fun way to introduce y'all to the many faces of the wine industry. It's also a way for us to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to make wine... holes, thermals and all!

We hope you enjoy the series and, if you work in the industry, be sure to send some of your own pics to hello@winefolk.co.nz

Introducing... Luca Pronzat. Luca hails from France and is working vintage at Greystone Wines. Luca wears many wine hats, including wine buyer, wine agent, sommelier and cellar hand. Today he's wearing a beanie. 

Chef Alex Davies: Another way of looking at food and wine matches

Recently my philosophy of food and approach to cuisine changed. I grew up experiencing a fairly typical modern western diet. Ham sandwiches for school lunch and fast food to celebrate school holidays. However, my mum introduced us to organics from an early age and the impact it had has stayed with me. Recognising the origins and methods of food production became central to my philosophy, as was honouring the animal by eating it nose to tail. However, eating meat weighed heavy on me and felt inherently wrong. I spoke about sustainability yet felt I wasn’t doing enough. I began to research sustainable food practices. Our earth and its climate are in crisis. By reducing our meat consumption,particularly in high resource countries like New Zealand, we can notably reduce our carbon footprint with little sacrifice. 

Which leads us to the latest section of Winefolk and where we are at. I am not saying “don’t eat meat”, I just want to encourage others to eat less meat and appreciate the joys that can be found in vegetables. Through the recipes and wine matches provided, I am hopeful that it may encourage you to cook more of them, inspire you to think more about where your food is coming from and to make a vegetable based meal into a celebration. Who knows, this in turn may lead you to a more sustained action regarding your food and eating habits. 

The recipes on these pages should serve as guidelines, and act as inspiration. I actively encourage you to change and alter them as you see fit. The recipes are simple and rely on organic ingredients. When using a recipe you should purchase the highest quality ingredients that you can afford from farmers markets. Included on the site is a list of farmers markets and their opening times in Christchurch. I hope to add to this list over time so people from all over the country are aware of farmers markets in their own regions, please let me know so I can add to the ever expanding list. 

Please purchase ethically and purchase well, your body and your environment will thank you for it! 

Lastly food and wine matching is totally subjective. Whilst I have tried my best to match the dishes to specific wines, I recognise that the matches may not suit your taste. This is fine as the end goal ultimately is that we all sit down, drink dine and talk together, one of the finest and simplest pleasures in life. I hope you enjoy the bi- weekly recipes and if you have any queries do not hesitate to email me. 

The world is changing and so must we. Eating less meat and a making a shift to a vegetable driven diet is not just a trend, it is a necessity. Enjoy with wine and good people.