John Hawkesby

John Hawkesby is a wine writer for Canvas Magazine.

Students' golden touch at Waiheke winery

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The Goldie Room used to use grapes from other areas to expand their portfolio. Now, however, they have decided to make it site-specific. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Goldie Room used to use grapes from other areas to expand their portfolio. Now, however, they have decided to make it site-specific. Photo / Steven McNicholl

It's just over a year since Waiheke Island's Kim and Jeanette Goldwater handed over their stunning winery to the University of Auckland.

The island's oldest commercially viable vineyard, winery, cellar, offices, restaurant and family home in Putiki Bay have become an integral and hands-on part of the University of Auckland's wine science diploma course. What they now have is arguably one of the finest viticultural and winemaking undergraduate facilities in the world, with breathtaking views as a bonus.

With the Goldwaters enjoying a well-deserved retirement, their brand now belongs to American lodge owner and collector of New Zealand wineries, Bill Foley.

The university uses the grapes grown on the Waiheke property to produce a variety of wines under the new label, Goldie. The students get to live onsite, tend the vines, work alongside the winemakers, utilise the brand new laboratory, develop skills as cellar-hands, promote and sell their product from the cellar and learn related skills in the restaurant and tasting room.

In short, it's about wine tourism and hospitality and the important synergy between wine and food.

The Goldwater family keep in touch, particularly through son-in-law Ken Christie who has an ongoing role as general manager of the Goldie Wines operation, and both Kim and Jeanette pop in occasionally to chat about the history of the estate and pass on their years of knowledge about what makes the vineyard tick, what vines were planted where and why, and how to maximise production while retaining premium quality.

Production from the island itself was never huge; the Goldwaters used grapes from other areas (notably Marlborough) to expand their portfolio. But now, under the Goldie label, it's all site-specific and, as you'd expect, a lot of what is produced has a ready market from the university itself - for the popular cellar door and the restaurant, or Goldie Room as it is more commonly known.

However, some does make its way to traditional outlets or is available through goldiewines.co.nz. The Island label is the entry-level brand with wines in the early to mid-$20 range. The Goldie label is reserved for the premium range.

Recommended

2012 Island Chardonnay by Goldie Wines, $24
Waiheke Island chardonnays are always reliable and fabulous - this one is extraordinarily good value. It has big, intense aromas of stonefruit and citrus with a lovely smooth texture and a long, lingering finish.


2010 Goldie Cabernet Merlot Franc, $60
Cabernet sauvignon-dominant, this wine has a dry style, rich with flavours of blackcurrant, plum and spice. It makes a wonderful accompaniment for dense red meat dishes.

- NZ Herald

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