The normal trials and tribulations of tertiary education poured back into my life when I went back to school for viticulture and winemaking: late nights tapping away to finish an assignment; stomach in my throat before exams; and the endless ‘homework guilt’ lingering in the back of my mind, to name a few. However, when homework is wine, the ‘guilt’ can easily slip away with an oaked chardonnay or aged Bordeaux blend.
Immersion is the best way to learn a language, and I feel, to learn anything. With this in mind I moved down to sunny Blenheim to surround myself with the great Marlborough wine region. Wine is almost a language in itself, the work comes with its own jargon and when tasting, a generous dictionary of adjectives is essential to have in one’s head to describe what it is that is being felt, smelled and tasted. Indeed, just like a new language, new parts of your brain must be stimulated as you force yourself to use senses that are more often than not, neglected, such as your smell and taste. I have had to develop my nose to break down and distinguish different aromas; where before I only smelled red wine – stewed blackcurrants, white pepper, forest floor and star anise now fill my senses. Green capsicum, citrus, passion fruit and tomato stalk now make up sauvignon blanc flavours for me as this world of wine trickles into my understanding.
Upon arriving in Blenheim, at school, I made my first wine an oaked sauvignon blanc. Since then, I have been working alongside my study at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) to allow myself to take in both the theory and the practical of the profession, with my only regret being that I did not start earlier. As all good wine is made in the vineyard and produced from the best quality grapes, I worked in the vines, gaining a greater understanding of the plant before moving into winery work with the acclaimed Framingham Wines. The team at Framingham have been as helpful to me as my tutors, guiding me to realise my goals in the industry. Indeed, with these experiences under my belt and graduation in sight, all I can think of is the next vintage, the next bottle, bouquet and sensation that this lifestyle brings with it.