If it wasn't for some hard case Kiwis, Michael Callipari's vino would have never made it to our shores.
Hailing from Mildura, Victoria, Callipari first started making wine 12 years ago under the label Callipari Wines and travelled to food shows and festivals around Australia, taking his tipple to the masses.
It was at the Royal Hobart Show in Tasmania where he met Christchurch local Darren Marshall, who was showing off his New Zealand made honey.
"He was standing behind me and I remember his voice was really annoying," Callipari quipped in his south-Australian drawl.
"I said 'bring it to New Zealand', and he said 'yeah, righty-o'," said Marshall.
It helped that Callipari was wooed by a Kiwi lass, so he decided to bring Callipari Wines to Fieldays, and built up a loyal following from 2005 to 2008.
"Then [Fieldays] changed the rules and you couldn't sell individual bottles, so I couldn't come for a few years."
That rule was since reversed, he said, so this year he was back in business at Mystery Creek.
The most iconic of his range was the Ned Kelly Red, named after the infamous Australian outlaw.
"We wanted something Australian and iconic. We were going to call it bush red but Ned Red sounded better than bush red."
Ned Kelly Red , with its splash of orange and lemon and five per cent alcohol content, was an unusually gentle tribute to one of Australia's roughest criminals.
The label quoted Manning Clark with "Ned Kelly was a wild ass of a man, snarling, roaring and frothing like a ferocious beast when the tamer entered the cage".
Callipari makes a red tawny port, fortified white, pink spritzer and red spritzer in the Ned Kelly range.
He said 12 year-old tawny port was ideal for "tim-tam slams" - which involves slurping the vino through a chocolate biscuit, like a straw."
The white port is aged for five years and that one's nice on ice cream," he said.
Callipari Wines can be found at site R46, near the Lifestyle Marquee.
- Waikato Times
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