Marlborough Wines and Vines, Volume 1
By Cynthia and Graham Brooks
Published by GP
Print, Wellington, New Zealand, 1992
Reviewed by Mike Trought
In 1973 the Montana company,
looking to extend its grape plantings, bought land in Marlborough.
The first grape vines were planted in August. Twenty years later,
the wines produced from these vineyards have had an impact on the
world wine scene that would be beyond the wildest dreams of the
This book looks at the
history of wine production in Marlborough through the eyes and ears
of Cynthia and Graham Brooks. Both were born and raised in Marlborough,
and have seen the growth of the wine industry and impact it has
had on the landscape and people of Marlborough. Cynthia and Graham
both work for the local Marlborough Express newspaper,
as a features writer and freelance photographer respectively.
The photographic artistry
of Graham, and the intimate knowledge Cynthia has of Marlborough
and the local wine industry, are obvious immediately you open the
book. Over 250 photographs which, with the exception of the historical
prints, are in excellent colour cover the 148 pages. These photographs
look at all perspectives of grape and wine production and follow
the development of grapes in Marlborough from 1873 to 1992. They
complement the text which is largely in the form of interviews with
the personalities involved in the industry.
A historical introduction
to wine making and grape growing in Marlborough makes fascinating
reading. We are all aware of the recent development, but grapes
were grown in the province for wine production from about 1873 until
the 1960s. However, it was the arrival of the Montana company which
planted 635 hectares of flat land in the Renwick, Fairhall and Brancott
areas that led to the current industry. Today, Marlborough has the
largest area of grapes planted in New Zealand, and most of the countries
major wine companies have either established wineries or buy fruit
grown in the province. In several instances, these companies have
connections with important international wine companies in Australia,
France and elsewhere.
After discussing the
historical development, the book considers the question, "Why Marlborough?".
Some consideration is given to the influence of climate, soils,
management and varieties on grapes grown in the province. This section
also mentions the services allied to the grape industry that have
grown largely as a consequence of the development of the grape industry.
Research, education and engineering all get a mention, together
with a review of the Marlborough Grape Growers Association.
Unfortunately the map
on page 40 provides little help in describing the wine producing
area to someone not familiar with the province. A suitable map showing
the vineyards, wineries, and some of the notable features photographed
for the book would have helped those unfamiliar with the region.
The most substantial
part of the book (almost 100 pages) looks at each of the wineries
involved in the region in turn. Cynthia obviously knows all the
personalities well, and introduces them in a way that enables the
reader to relate to their aspirations and excitement. It is in these
pages that Graham's photographic skills come to the fore. The interviews
are interspersed with photographs of the wineries, vineyards and
people that make up the Marlborough wine industry. Whether it is
young buds developing in the spring, vineyards in the mist, dramatic
views of winery tanks, or the smiling faces of winemakers, grape
growers or vineyard workers, the pictures all tell a story of a
determination of purpose. The rows of vines marching off into the
distance, or the lightening strike over the vineyard, show the moods
of the Wairau Plains, while stainless steel tanks, and all the distorted
reflected shapes, produce opportunities which Graham has capitalised
to the full. Above all, everyone is obviously enjoying themselves!
As with any review of
this sort, the book provides a snapshot of the industry as it was
in 1992. Since publication, several new wineries have opened, and
the planted area now exceeds 2000 hectares. While phylloxera currently
is leading to a massive replanting of vineyards, the growth of the
industry shows no signs of slowing. I look forward to the time Graham
and Cynthia decide to review the development of the industry again.
Marlborough is recognised as being one of the foremost grape-growing
areas in the world. I am sure this is a position it will retain.
and Vines is a book that you pick up and dip into, and find
something new each time. An ideal gift for anyone interested in
New Zealand wines, or as a reminder of visit to Marlborough to enjoy
the sun, wine and scenery.
in New Zealand: Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture
1993 4(1): 11
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