If you're looking for somewhere safe to invest your money, there's every chance most bankers and financial advisers will steer you gently, yet firmly, away from anything to do with growing grapes and making wine.

As one veteran producer said to me recently, "What on earth was I thinking? It seemed a good idea - but then everything did in the 80s."

But the allure of owning a patch of land, planting vines and tilling the soil while battling the elements and creating new markets for your hopefully fabulous wine remains.

To this end, let us applaud the vision and verve of Andrew Sutherland and Joanne Costar's new Nelson wine label, Harakeke Farm. Their new-release 2010 pinot noir is outstanding and, at $24 a bottle is, in my humble opinion, the best value-for-money pinot to be had.


"We're new, we don't have an established reputation, so we're pricing our wines accordingly. We want people to try them," says Costar.

They're off to a flying start but they do bring impeccable credentials to the table. Sutherland was previously the viticulturalist and assistant winemaker at Neudorf Vineyard, one of New Zealand's premier producers, while Costar worked at Neudorf too, in sales and marketing.

So they're not exactly novices in the business of making wine, and getting people to buy it.

If the wines I tried recently are an indication of future vintages and what we can expect from Harakeke Farm, then this is great news for consumers looking for wonderful quality wine at genuinely competitive prices.

The vineyard is not large - about 3.5 ha on Moutere clays, planted on north-facing slopes slightly more inland than the Neudorf vineyards.

It's picture-postcard country and the simple, charming label features the distinctive New Zealand flax bush and the Maori word for flax - harakeke - gives it the name.

"We aim to make concentrated wines that are the product of our passion for quality and a sustainable approach to farming the land," says Sutherland.
It's working brilliantly so far.

2010 Harakeke Farm Pinot Noir, $24
Yet more proof that Nelson can produce excellent pinots at unbelievable value: a wine of unerring quality from young vines. Elegant, with a nice mix of red fruits, toasty oak and savoury notes. Delicious.

2011 Harakeke Farm Riesling, $18
If it's time you revisited this too often ignored varietal, this is the one to re-ignite your ardour. It has wonderful fruit definition with zesty lime and refreshing acidity and a mineral underbelly, tending dry.