It was all like this once: fruit trees crowded either side of the two-lane unsealed length of Lincoln Rd.
The road marked the beginning of the chunk of Auckland's west where the immigrant families from Croatia settled between the world wars and set to growing fruit for the expanding city.
Dubbed Dallies for the part of coastal Croatia called Dalmatia where they mostly came from, they grew grapes too, for making wine, because, as one of them told me last week, "that was the way we had lived at home".
Croatian names became synonymous with wine-making: Babich, Nobilo and Soljan among others, although Assid Corban, who had started up out there in 1902, was Lebanese.
Now they're gone from Lincoln Rd, clogged with traffic and lined with bolt-together retail sheds of prefabricated concrete. All the vineyards have gone, too, all except one. Behind a spit-shined two-storey brick-and-tile house near the corner of Universal Drive, the roadside sign announces the sole survivor: Mazuran's, Vintner of Fine Old Wines.
In the cellar room, where I meet managing director Antony Hladilo and his father Rado, the air smells sweet and sticky, from the bottles of port and sherry on the shelves. Some go back more than 60 years. We talk about fruit varieties - Cox's Orange apples, Bon Chretien pears - that modern industrial-scale orcharding seems to have weeded out. But it's the wine stories I'm here to hear.
In my student days, calling into an orchard on the way back from a west coast beach was mandatory.
With time, we got to know where you could find a Dally winemaker - down that road, first left, third right - who would, in a wordless exchange of dubious legality (we were still teenagers), sell us a half-gallon flagon of rough red (no label, no name even) at student-flat prices.
Mazuran's was out of my league, though. The vineyard, which George Mazuran started on land he'd bought in 1938 with money he'd made digging kauri gum up north, has always specialised in quality ports and sherries, not backyard rotgut. Fortified wine was an easier sell in a market where a pre-dinner sherry or two was a common habit, but wine-drinking was seen as odd, foreign behaviour.
"The public hated [the red wine]," says Rado.
"But we made so little, we thought, if we can't sell it, we can drink it."
"In the '70s," Antony tells me, "everyone was making fortified wine. Then when table wine started to take off in the '80s, we just kept on doing what we had always done."
Rado, who married the boss' daughter Patricia in 1968, learned from the master and took charge of the winemaking duties when the old man died in 1982. Now 77, he proudly tells me he's wearing his 46th pair of gumboots - one for every harvest.
The rows of vines down the back, shrouded with bird netting, include palomino, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a little sweet muscat. The family's 6ha of land runs down to Central Park Drive, though it used to go to the Henderson Creek.
It seems quaintly old-fashioned to be operating on such a small scale - Rado says he'll make about 23,000 litres this year - but the Mazurans say they are driven more by tradition than economic imperatives.
"If you are chasing money, you got to grow bigger and bigger all the time," Rado says. "But I don't want that. When George started, before I even came here, he was only interested in growing grapes and making good sherry. It's the same for me."
Rado's winemaking shed - no other word seems apt - is a testament to his belief that you don't fix what ain't broke. Everything's on a modest, almost backyard scale. His grape-crushing machine - made by George in 1943 of welded stainless steel, it's barely bigger than a domestic bath - is "the most beautiful crusher in the world", he says.
The diesel-powered boiler with which he distils spirit for fortification looks older than he is. The detailed notes he keeps of each vintage are in ballpoint pen on cardboard torn from a carton. It's a place where tradition seems to have soaked into the ground beneath your feet.
Rado believes that Antony and Rado jnr, the other of his three sons who stays involved, will make the wine when he's gone. He trusts that someone always will, but he's not so sentimental as to be sure of it.
"You can never say always," he says. "Every song has an ending."