Written by Victoria Clark
Twenty-eight vintages on since Jenny Wheeler and her partner Andrew Greenhough established Greenhough Wines, Jenny still marvels at the influence the weather – Mother-Nature - has on the wines we eventually pour and savour.
“Other types of produce are not influenced the way wine is,” she says. “A gala apple still tastes the same to me, year in, year out, regardless of what the weather was like over the season it was growing. We try to keep our wines consistent, but they’re definitely a reflection of the season’s weather.”
When she describes the fledgling days of producing wine at Greenhough Vineyards in Hope, just south of Richmond, it is evident how much the wine industry has evolved in the Nelson region. Gone are the days when, having settled in Nelson from Auckland, Jenny and Andrew would quite regularly get together with other Nelson wine-making couples for tastings.”
“There were only about half-a-dozen vineyards around us and most of us were learning and experimenting, and it was easier to have those less-formal get-togethers,” Jenny remembers. “There were around 160 wineries in New Zealand in those days. Now there are more than700.”
But, one of the best things about wine-making that has not changed, says Jenny, is seeing the wine-making process through from beginning to end – from growing the grapes to making the wine and having people around the world enjoying it.
“Good wine and great food go hand-in-hand, and it is always nice to be able to share a bottle that one has had a hand in making. It never gets boring, as there are constant new challenges.
Jenny believes running a relatively small-scale winery such as Greenhough Vineyards means she needs to be practical, adaptable and a jack of all trades.
“My work involves diverse activities, from working on the accounts and record-keeping, to running the cellar door and marketing the wines, plus occasional vineyard work - especially at harvest time.
“I’d much rather be outside on a beautiful day, pruning the vines or picking grapes, than having to be working indoors,” she laughs.
“My most favourite time is the harvest. It’s the culmination of a year’s work, so it’s truly rewarding and that feeling never gets old.”