On a clear day from my elevated, west-facing home on Waiheke Island, I can see the Waiatarua TV transmitter perched on top of the Waitakere Ranges.
My link with West Auckland has been tenuous. In the 1960s there were many surfing trips in the Mark II Consul, either to Piha or Muriwai, depending on the wind.
The Te Atatu rugby league team, extremely big and fast players, invariably stretched my beloved Ellerslie Eagles. We usually won, just, but the injury toll was excessive - to us, not them.
But when it comes to wine, without the west, the New Zealand industry would not be in the strong position it is today. Yes, urbanisation and the wretched tentacles of motorways have ravaged the green belts and rambling vineyards of yesteryear.
Notwithstanding, the valiant efforts, blood, sweat, tears and fears of an optimistic and hard-working group of mainly Croatian families were, and still are, leaders in putting New Zealand firmly on the world wine map.
The roll call is impressive: Selak, Brajkovich, Babich, Fredatovich, Mazuran, Jelich, Yukich, Delegat, Ivicevich, Antunovich, Vitasovich, Nobilo, Corban (Lebanese descent), Soljan, Spence ... There were pockets of development and production elsewhere in the country, often the work of visionary single-minded individuals, but West Auckland provided the collective mass and unrelenting quest for wine that reflected its own sense of place.
If the West was going to be won, it would be on the broad shoulders of what for a time was known affectionately as the "Dally Mafia". No one is pretending all that early production was fabulous.
"Fortified sump oil" was one description, but it was part of an evolutionary process that would ultimately lead to impressive, drinkable, sought-after table wines. As land and vines were replaced by tarseal, tiles and weatherboard, grapes were planted or purchased from the new, emerging wine areas like Marlborough and Hawkes Bay.
Some focus may have shifted south, but the second, third and fourth generation family members remain anchored in the shadow of the valleys and will be forever westies.
Let us not forget our debt to them.
2004 Babich The Patriarch
Astonishing premium red made in honour of the company founder, Josip Babich. Hawkes Bay grapes - a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and merlot. Only made in exceptional vintages.
2006 Kumeu River
West Auckland grapes from classy winemaker Michael Brajkovich M.W. Hints of apricots, peaches, butterscotch. Seamless and elegant.