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Urban winery coming up roses

Jane Cooper said she is proud of this year’s 2020 vintage which was made under difficult circumstances related to covid-19 in their new Greytown urban winery. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
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The first wine from the 2020 vintage at the Alexia Urban Winery in Greytown has the owners tickled pink.

The Gentle Girl Wairarapa Rose was also the first wine to be made at the new urban facility in Greytown owned by Jane Cooper and her partner Lesley Reidy.

Cooper, who has been in the industry for 25 years, said it was one of the most challenging vintages in her career as work on the winery was completed only days before the lockdown began.

“We were still sweeping up the sawdust and getting tanks into place at the winery when we started picking, so it was all down to the wire already,” she said. “We were driving back from the vineyard with our first pick of

Pinot Noir, when the Prime Minister made the announcement that the country would be going into full lockdown within a couple of days.”

With uncertainty about whether they’d be able to continue and staffing shortages, the couple did all the picking by hand in an effort to beat the rain.

“We got the grapes in, but then the crusher broke down, and tanks leaked so we were trying to arrange parts to come from Auckland and band-aid fixes while we were pumping wine from one tank to another.

“It was really tough.”

Which is partly why she’s especially proud of this year’s wines.

“I’ve been making wine for a long time and there’s a lot of pressure around the first vintage.

“The first vintage in a winery is always really hard because you don’t know how things will go.

“This year the wines are really good, and we are super excited about the rose.”

Cooper was also excited about the future of the urban winery which will open to the public towards the end of the year.

Another unique feature of the urban winery in Greytown is the two-tonne concrete egg fermenter.

She said Greytown’s “tight knit community” and popularity with tourists made it the perfect setting for an urban winery, many years in the making.

“We’ve noted there’s quite a shift from wineries into urban areas.

“It took us quite a long time to work through.”

Challenges included navigating neighbourly relations, waste disposal and water supply – they have their own collected from rainwater.

One of the other features of the urban winery is the two-tonne concrete egg fermenter.

While not widely used in the industry, the shape of the chamber and the convection currents it generates keep the wine moving, creating a stronger flavour and texture, Cooper said.

She said she was excited about the cellar door opening later this year and showcasing a range of new wines, varieties and styles in a setting that would allow customers to experience the whole winemaking process up close.

“This will be a very memorable vintage for us – not for the reasons we were originally anticipating – but we’re really proud of the wines we’ve made.

“We put everything into them and rose is such a cheerful, hopeful wine it seems fitting for this to be our first urban wine release.”

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