Revival for wine club
Revival for wine clubJONO GALUSZKA
A wine group eh? While some people might think it sounds like a good excuse to smash back a few bottles of plonk, the members of the Manawatu Wine Group think on a different wavelength.
‘‘It’s a place of knowledge,’’ Rob Christiaans says.
The group was put together after another wine club in Palmerston North dissolved.
Mr Christiaans says former members would meet up on a regular basis and were keen to get a wine club going again.
So in November last year, the Manawatu Wine Group was put back together and had its first tasting with the Clearview winery.
Since then, the group has met every second week at its premises on Walding St – the former location of a ‘‘massage parlour’’ – to sample varieties from various New Zealand wineries.
Geoff Newton says the evenings usually follow the same structure.
‘‘Normally the winemaker will present the wines.
‘‘There will be eight wines – four whites followed by four reds – and each person gets a taste of each wine.
‘‘While the winemaker talks about the wine, we will try them and then discuss them.’’
There is a break in the middle for a bit of supper to make sure the imbibers do not get carried away.
The group started out small, but now has winemakers booked a year in advance and plenty of demand.
As many as 90 people have turned up for tastings, which are run by a dedicated team of volunteers.
Margaret Newton says wineries used to sometimes send a sales rep, but that idea quickly got knocked on its head.
‘‘When they can’t answer a question it’s not a good look.’’
Geoff Newton says the winemakers ‘‘are a bit like rock stars’’ and helping them out ‘‘is like the backstage people getting to meet the rock stars’’.
With increasing demand from winemakers to present to people in Palmerston North, the group eventually wants to start doing tastings every week.
Mr Christiaans says it would get tiring having the same people run it every week, but the hard work is worth it.
‘‘We do it because we enjoy it and enjoy socialising and enjoy purchasing at a reduced rate.’’
That’s right – the wines the club members get to taste are all on sale on the night, usually discounted by a few dollars.
Mr Christiaans says the group has a wide variety of members.
‘‘You don’t have to be a connoisseur to be here; you can be anyone from a car groomer to an entrepreneur. It’s a place of meeting and networking.’’
Mr Newton agrees.
‘‘One thing alcohol does is open up conversation.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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