A fascinating Listener article by Michael Cooper revealed a huge social change in New Zealand, specifically that our wine consumption has dropped by almost 40% over the last decade. If it was a 1% fall I’d put my hand up as the culprit. For nigh on four decades I averaged at least two bottles of red daily without any detrimental effect but about 18 months back I experienced my first ever hangover. Now I’ve lost the habit and don’t drink wine any more.
Cooper reported a similar phenomenon in Britain and America. Apparently the vast majority of wine drinkers are now over 55, the young either not drinking, an aspect I suspect of currently fashionable wokist wet puritanism, or opting for other diluted alcohol options.
Cooper revealed, there are 730 wine producers surviving in New Zealand, the vast majority small-time.
It’s something which has fascinated me since the 1980s, namely otherwise sensible blokes wanting to have their own vineyard, or, as they put it, their own label.
For God’s sake, it’s hard to imagine a more excruciatingly boring pursuit. Rows of plants in a treeless setting hardly offers an attractive rustic life-style. A snail farm would be more interesting.
The “having ones own label” types have deservedly been figures of fun for decades. Ridicule aside they’ve paid a hell of a price.
Last year we took the mickey out of my Auckland based C.E.O Greg Loveridge and had bottles of red in smart presentation boxes sent out to everyone he dealt with. The front label bore the message “Lover Ridge Wine from the estate of Greg Loveridge” and the back, the advice, “Our grapes personally foot trampled by Mr and Mrs Greg Loveridge”.
Seemingly that was a step too far as he was inundated with calls from recipients advising the Wellington office was taking the piss out of him.
Faux snobbishness pertaining to wine reached its pinnacle in the 1980s when the better restaurants all employed a wine waiter whose babble about the options was always a source of humour. They disappeared in the post 1987 share-market crash recession for more fitting careers to suit their talents, such as stop-go sign holders.
Plainly over the next few years we can expect perhaps half of all New Zealand’s vineyards to be transformed to other agricultural activities, in the process restoring a balance between supply and demand and one could well add, between common sense and fantasy.