A random chance and Covid played a hand in bringing three young Hawke's Bay women together.
Just over a year ago all three were working overseas — Holly Girven Russell and Hester Nesbitt in Australian wineries and Casey Motley in Europe.
Today they are thrilled that with the help of friends and family they have finished hand-picking their first harvest of grapes from a hillside vineyard in Maraekakaho.
"We are absolutely rapt with the quality of the grapes and excited about what we are going to do with them," Casey said.
While Holly and Hester had worked together before, meeting through the wine industry, Casey is new to the trio.
"I really feel as if it was our destiny to end up working together," Casey said. "We all have similar ideas, inspirations and direction and that is how Three Fates was born really."
All three are locals and have long histories in winemaking. Hester Nesbitt is from a farming background in Waipukurau, has made wine in five countries and can be found driving tractors when she's not in the vines. Casey is from Hastings and studied Winemaking and Viticulture at EIT before spending several years living in Europe making wine and enjoying the lifestyle. Holly grew up in Bay View and as the daughter of Esk Valley winemaker, Gordon Russell, surely has wine in her blood.
With fruit quality and vine health at the centre of what they do, the team have worked by hand with the help of a dedicated crew of friends and family to bring this hillside vineyard to harvest.
They did their first pick on March 10, bringing in a small parcel of Arneis which Casey said was in pristine condition and is now happily fermenting in neutral oak to retain the freshness of the Italian variety.
They finished picking last Saturday.
The harvest is the realisation of an extended pandemic project for the Three Fates team.
"It's a dream come true for all of us and we are so grateful for all the support and help from family, friends and people in the wine industry who gave us invaluable advice. Thank you all."
She said it is rare to have an opportunity such as this.
"Everything just fell into place. A family friend of Holly's wanted to step back and offered the hillside farm land to her.
"She wrangled us in, we popped a couple of bottles of wine and then cracked into it. We have been like ships passing in the night throughout this year. We call and message a lot but otherwise we all work to our own strengths.
"Hester has an insane palette on her and is switched on when it comes to finance, Holly is organised and loves a good spreadsheet — that's her jam — she is creative and has worked on our Three Fates brand. She also just slots in whenever she's needed. I'm hands on at the site checking the growth, grapes, soil moisture. We took over this site when there were just sticks on it — I have to say it was nice to see fruit appear.
"It was a super stressful start to the season but we have ended with an amazing vintage. Nice slow ripening, perfect acidity in the grapes."
The vineyard has Arneis grapes, a white Italian wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy.
"It can be a bit boring but our job is to make it sing, it's quite delicate but has a really good texture. It's a bit like pinot gris but not so aromatic.
"However it's the Alborinao that we are most excited about. It has incredibly high natural acid and has a salty lovely flavour. It's in your face sweet and sour saltiness — it's really exciting to see what we can do with it."
The trio are in this for the long run and are constantly looking at "what we can do next".
They expect to have their first wines bottled and ready for purchase by the end of the year, but until then you can follow along with their progress and get an invite to upcoming events by finding them on Instagram @threefateswine or signing up to their newsletter at www.threefateswine.com.
The trio is celebrating their successful debut harvest at Vinci's Pizza this evening. The Three Fates team will be following European tradition by pouring Sturm or "New Wine", a low-alcohol wine that is cloudy, lightly sparkling, slightly sweet and delicious, paired with onion pizza - Vinci's take on Zwiebelkuchen. Come along to meet the team, talk about the 2021 vintage, and try a curated list of local wines. Pouring starts at 5pm.
pf■enVinci's Pizza is at 29A Hastings St, Napier.