You never know where your friends are going to go with their lives. My friends continually surprise me.
In 1984 I travelled through Africa with an unusual and varied bunch of travellers. Amongst the bunch was a Kiwi named Rob.
Rob came from the Wairarapa, and was a wiry Kiwi bloke who had spent a lot of time in the bush possum hunting, when he wasn’t working as a printer.
He also spoke his mind, usually with a roll-your-own fag hanging out his mouth, whether you liked it or not.
A real no-nonsense type of down-under-bloke.
So what’s Rob doing these days?
He makes wine. Not just any wine – I have tasted it, and it really is fantastic.
Pinot Noir. Medal winning Pinot Noir.
I KNOW which friends to keep in touch with.
A few years earlier Rob and I had caught up in Mt Maunganui when he was on holiday, and I had a few lessons from him in what makes a good wine. At the time he was just starting to plant up his grapevines, and was studying to learn all he could about making a great wine.
Rob never does anything half-hearted, at least as long as I have known him.
At his place my education was about to continue as he showed me around.
I learnt how they get rid of the shoots from the bottom of the grapevines. I have to say it took me awhile to stop laughing when being shown what to do.
You wrap your hand around the bottom of the vine (gloved of course) and run it up and down to smooth the shoots off.
Now – do I need to say more !!
I actually managed to get a couple of rows done, and kept up with Rob – well almost.
I was shown where the grapes are pressed and stored, and given lectures on sugar content, testing, and all the bits that go into wine making.
The fun part came at night in Rob’s lounge. Sitting around I got to sample a drop from a few of his bottles over the years. My memories of that part are exceedingly pleasant.
When I left I was gifted a couple of bottles from different years. These went home with me, and I have to admit to hoarding them.
They were only drunk when there was an occasion that warranted something special. It was a sad day when the last drop was wrung out of the last bottle.
Martinus Estate Pinot Noir is not over abundant in supply, as Martinus Estate is not a large commercial winery, but a small family business that is more about quality that quantity.
Their wines have won accolades from a broad spectrum of places, and deserved every one.
Now that I have shamelessly promoted the wines, I’ll get back to the point of this post.
Those days spent with Rob in Martinborough were a surprise to me.
This still wiry Kiwi had never looked as comfortable to me as he did working to make his wine.
Twenty-seven years ago when I first met him, cliché as it sounds I thought of Rob as a Kiwi bushman. I could not have imagined him in this place, doing this.
He has become an artist.
He creates something unique, something beautiful, something that gives pleasure.
That is my definition of an artist.