Lynnette Hudson: Flying Winemaker with Her Feet on the Ground
If you have visited the Pegasus Bay winery, as likely as not you will have seen Lynnette Hudson. She may have been washing out barrels, shovelling a load of grape skins, operating the press, on the cat walk taking samples from the tallest tanks, driving the forklift, taking a group tasting, or had her head in a wine vat. Lynnette is a highly talented, multiskilled young lady who is an indispensable part of the Pegasus Bay operation. Officially she is our white wine maker, but our reds also show her unmistakable stamp. Lynnette originally did a BSc in Botany & Zoology, but it didn't take her long to nut out that a life of insects and pot-plants was going to leave her with a few unfilled desires. Accordingly, she followed her nose, so to speak, and enrolled for the Post-Graduate Diploma of Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University. From the start, it was apparent she had a flare for winemaking and in 1992 she graduated Dux of the class!
When the school was out, she cut her vinous teeth by doing a couple of vintages in Canterbury. While we can't claim to have been the talent scouts who discovered her, we weren't very slow of the mark and the second of these vintages, 1993, was with Pegasus Bay. She has been part of the family since. She spent the winter of that year in the vineyard pruning vines and, come spring, she joined the flying winemaker set by working a vintage at Chapel Downs in southern England. She then took a vintage job in Australia's Hunter Valley before returning in time for our grape harvest in 1994. Later that year, she was head hunted by a German firm and put in charge of winemaking at a large Hungarian winery. The following year the same firm sent her to sort out their operation at a big Romanian winery. Her mission in both cases was clear -- to upgrade the standard of the wine from its rather sorry state to meet international quality standards. She succeeded brilliantly.
Well, what's next on Lynnette's agenda? She's decided she would like to work in Burgundy and in the next European autumn is going to do a vintage with Christophe Roumier at Chambolle-Musigny, who is undoubtedly one of the best winemakers in the Cote d'Or. The international flying winemaker helps Pegasus soar even higher!
PEGASUS ADOPTS A WINGED CHILD
We don't know if Pegbasus had any children of her own, but we suspect she had a maternal streak to her nature. A few months back, we found a forlorn baby magpie on our doorstep, too big to put back in a nest, but too small to fly. Our kind hearted winemakers, Lynnette and Matthew, did not really want it, but couldn't bear to turn it away to starve. What to do? They took it inside and fed it with an eyedropper and mashed worms. For many weeks, it would not let them out of its sight, clinging to them for dear life. It perched on their shoulders and heads as they went about their work in the winery, riding on the forklift, pumping wine tanks and emptying barrels. But all good stories come to an end. Maggie, as he or she was called, eventually grew up and followed Pegasus' example, soaring up into the blue sky.
THE NEW NEST
Does Pegasus have a stable or a nest? We are not exactly sure. Anyway, a few months back, we decided that she either needed a new nest or a second stable. You can take your pick. In spite of the fact that our original winery was a substantial building, the clamour for our wines and the development of our vineyard meant that wine production had increased to a point where we had outgrown our original facility. Accordingly, we commissioned architect Trevor Ibbetson and put builder Geoff Russell to work.
The result is that we now have a very handsome warehouse and bottling hall. This new building has been designed in the same stately and gracious style as the original complex, complete with stained glass windows. It is not small and more than doubles the floor space of our winery. We've also moved our tasting and cellar door sales area into this new structure, which will enable us to shift the restaurant kitchen into the room they previously occupied. The old kitchen will then become a laboratory, giving the winemakers Lynnette Hudson and Matthew Donaldson, a permanent home for this vital part of the operation. When the next phase is built, the tasting and cellar door sales will eventually move to their permanent home!
In front of the new building, we have constructed a new patio area complete with a pergola. The latter will be covered in vines, offering a sheltered, shaded spot to sit on a long, warm autumn afternoon. Come to test drive it.
All that sounds like leap frog, but I don't think it's the only game they know how to play at Pegasus Bay. Out the back of the new building, a large, flat concrete pad has been laid. The concrete cutter came to put deep clefts in it so it wouldn't fracture willy nilly. When he left, we found his cuts exactly marked out a tennis court! Is someone trying to con us?
Last year, we received an unexpected telephone call from New Zealand Post. They had decided it was time they honoured the outstanding achievements of the New Zealand wine industry and they were planning on producing six stamps featuring pretigious New Zealand vineyards. Would we mind being included? Would we mind? -- We were ecstatic. We were also delighted with the company that we were asked to keep as New Zealand Post had definitely done its homework and had sorted out the country's top wineries.
So here we are then displayed for all the world to see along with Cloudy Bay, Goldwater, Millton, Rippon and Te Mata. Initially the post office suggested we would have our name on the stamp, but half way down the track they dropped this idea. We are not sure why, but perhaps they regarded it as being commercially sensitive. Nonetheless, they published a beautiful brochure on the stamps and the vineyards they represent, so we cannot feel too aggrieved. We have included it so you can peruse the magnificent six, but make sure you post Pegasus next time you want something to fly high.
THE DAME GETS ON HER HIGH HORSE
We don't know of many dames who have got up on their high horse. There are, however, two who have done so and made history, namely Lady Godiva and Dame Malvina Major. Any similarity between them is only skin deep. They will both go down for doing charitable work, but although Godiva might have been quite a dame, we don't think she was a proper lady. Dame Malvina has certainly made history by singing at the Mainland one and only original vineyard concert. This is the third year she has sung for us at Pegasus Bay. She was supported by a line-up of talented young opera singers, Ted Tahu Rhodes, Ben Makisi, Jared Holt and Eleanor Sim. Along with the Christchurch Symphony, under the baton of Maestro Brian Law, they performed a beautiful concert of opera favourites.
Each year has seen a bigger crowd attending the performance in the Pegasus Bay natural amphitheatre and, as before, the profit went to Canterbury Opera. As Dame Malvina sang at the opening of the winery, she can definitely claim Pegasus as her horse!
FROM THE PRESCRIPTION PAD
I guess we all agree that the carnage which occurs on the roads is a sad reflection on our way of life. Being a medic and one who has been particularly involved in helping head injured people, I can assure you that I feel as strongly about it as anyone in New Zealand. The question is what measures could be taken that would have any real effect? There is no doubt that alcohol abuse plays a significant part in major road accidents, so you wouldn't have to be a second Einstein to figure out that getting drunk drivers off the road might help. I'm sure we would all be in favour of such a move. How should it be done? Mere idiots, like you and I, would perhaps look at stiffer penalties for mind-blown motorists, including making things so touch for them that they wouldn't, or couldn't, re-offend. Fortunately, however, decisions like this aren't left to members of our jelly-brained set and are made within the hallowed walls of wisdom, namely Parliament, by our sage politicians.
When I was trying to find the comic strips in the local newspaper recently, I came across this article that told me they had found the final solution to our nation's motoring woes. The politicians, it turns out, want to show the public they ar really serious about this drink-drive problem and are going to lower the legal blood level of alcohol at which you can drive a car from 80millimols/l to 50. "That should do it," one was quoted as saying.
Now, I get to thinking and decide I'll follow this up. I scrabble around in the pile of old newspapers and find a day or two later that some academics are pouring cold water, or perhaps it's frigid alcohol, on the idea. They are guys like Dr Morgan Fahey, the Deputy Major of Christchurch, President of the International Society of Emergency Medicine and founder of the Doctors Road Accident Service. Another is Dr Bailey of Hamilton, who has probably done more scientific research on road deaths than anyone else in Australasia, and is regarded as an international authority on the subject. They point our that there are virtually no serious accidents caused by people whose blood alcohol is between 50 and 80 millimols/l and that when alcohol is a factor, the level is usually above 200. They imply that you won't even be able to sniff a glass of wine and drive a car. Some commentators suggest the new law will make the police coffers fat, but do nothing to address the problem, which results from hardened boozers who are already flouting the law. What do these academic goops know?
I would certainly put my faith in politicians who are elected by the people and must know what they are doing. Sometimes they are smeared by the newspapers, but I don't take any notice of that. I noticed last month that this vacuous little twerp called Blanks had the audacity to suggest he was insulted by our Treasurer, and to query the latter's blood alcohol level. In fact, Blanks was quoted in the local rag as saying, "I thought this little drunken man was going to king hit me." Winnie was clearly as sober as a judge, or should I say a Deputy Prime Minister, for he told the newspaper "I had a drink . . . but that had no effect or influence what-so-ever."
Now it occurs to me that all of the hot air generated by this little tete a tete which Blanks and Winnie were involved in could have been more usefully directed towards the bag. A snort into one of those baggy things or a needle in an appropriately sensitive body part could have cleared all the confusion. I'm not sure what is the maximum blood alcohol level that should be allowed in MPs when they're making a decsion on tax cuts or on things like driving regulation. I understand that at the moment, it is about 300millimols/l, but I hear they're considering winding it back a tad.
Whatever happens I'm sure they'll get it right!
Cheers, Ivan Donaldson