On a Mission
On a Mission in Taradale
“Can’t sleep? Don’t count sheep, talk to the shepherd.” I read on a church billboard in Taradale suburb. Or pop up to the Mission cellar door for a very generous sampling of seven wines and a free engraved glass for $5.00 (£2.50) instead, which is what we did, enough to ensure a good night’s sleep for us.
The Mission nestles in the Taradale Hills equidistant between Hastings and Napier and the first few handfuls of vines were brought to this region by some of the same French Marist Missionaries whose fellow brothers set up the Pompallier Mission and printing press in Russell back in 1838, a couple of years before the new country became a British Colony.
Their first venture into viticulture was established along the nobly named Ngaruroro River where they engaged in a balanced farm with cattle and fruit trees as well as the fledgling vines but they had expansion on their minds. So they bought some land on the sandy lowlands in Meeanee not far from the coast, set up a vineyard focussing on sacramental wines and table wines and started selling them commercially in 1870 under the expert guidance of New Zealand’s primary pioneering winemaker, Brother Cyprian Huchet whose father was a vigneron in the Loire Valley in France.
Then they learned the ‘Noah Lesson’ when a flood wrecked their vineyard in 1897. So true to NZ unstop ability they divided their colonial style two storeyed home up into eleven pieces and moved it up to higher land in 1909 where it still stands in 800 acres overlooking the sloping hills of vines.
Mary served us our samples as she juggled us with another couple. She has spent a number of years travelling the world, working where she can and is off to Bali soon. She told us about her Uncle and Aunt who love cruising like us. They had their first boat sink beneath them but now have another to enjoy.
There are five ranges of wines for sampling, the most expensive being a five year old Chardonnay and a same aged Syrah in the range named after Brother Huchet. Their flavour is still a mystery to us. Our samples came from the Jewelstone and Reserve Wine Ranges and the oldest was a 2013 Cabernet Franc. To finish a ‘Late Harvest’ as they name dessert wines, from the Estate Wine range was surprisingly unsweet and very pleasant. We came away with two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, from 2015 and 2017 and the names of our intended dinner guests in our minds.