New owner of Gladstone Vineyard Eddie McDougall, also known as the Flying Winemaker. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN
The Flying Winemaker has landed at Gladstone Vineyard because he now owns it.
Wine mogul Eddie McDougall set up an urban winery in Hong Kong then flew all over the world to sell wine.
He thought, being a flying wine maker, this was a suitable name for his label.
“I had my sights on New Zealand but wanted the exact soil and conditions I need to make premium wines. I found it in Gladstone,” McDougall said.
McDougall was born in Hong Kong and lived there until he was 11 years old.
His father was a Hong Kong-based inventor famed for inventing the Colgate electric toothbrush.
“I reckon I got my ‘never-say-die’ attitude from dad, not sure I got all his stubborn mindset. But it is true you really need thick skin to make it in business.”
When Eddie’s dad died in 2008, he realised how short life was.
He said there was a lot of “push back” in business, but you don’t take no for an answer.
“You can come out of the trenches as a loser or fight a battle well and come out a winner. This is what I think.”
He did a business degree in Australia but came out of that frustrated and unsure what to do until he tasted a very expensive wine that changed his life.
“I worked at a restaurant where everything and everyone went wrong one night.
“A bunch of politicians walked out but left their wine.
“We drank it and, holy cow, this changed my life it was incredible.”
It was a Pinot Blanc by Paul Blanck, Alsace, France. His passion was ignited. He went to Barolo in Italy to learn about wine. He learnt from top of the line Italian producer, Vietti.
“I was blown away with everything. It is a huge privilege to work with someone of that calibre.”
As the new custodian of 1986 Gladstone vineyard, McDougall is elevating production quality to produce more fine wines and less commercial red wines from the established vines.
He has the international markets firmly on his radar, particularly Asia.
The plan for Gladstone is to “take the wine to the world”.
“Gladstone is well established and making fine wine. They are custodians of the wine and I will bring that up a level and get it on the Asian market and the premium wine market.
“I am going to make New Zealand’s best pinot noir and most expensive, which will have value in the secondary, auction fine wine collectors’ market.”
McDougall will be the winemaker and at the winery at these times.
He is keen to open the vineyard up more as a fine food and wine venue, along with holding weekend events.
“We have Greytown’s Salute doing pop-up food for us here and other local food outlets coming.
“This summer is about the 2019 wines now released and bringing Wairarapa people out here to enjoy this beautiful place.”