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Bay wine community contributes over $125,000 to Hospice

7 December 2010


Bay wine community contributes over $125,000 to Cranford Hospice

Over $125,000, proceeds from the 2010 Midlands Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction, were presented (Wednesday 8 December) to Cranford Hospice board chairman, Ken Gilligan and Cranford general manager, Helen Blaxland by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc. chair, Nicholas Buck.

The commitment to Cranford Hospice by the Hawke’s Bay wine industry began in 1991 and since then it is not just the financial generosity that has grown; the relationship has become personal for the many grape growers and winery personnel involved.

Hawke’s Bay’s regional wine industry association with Cranford follows in good stead from other wine / hospice relationships around the world. Examples include the most famous Hospice de Beaune held in Burgundy each year, the Napa Valley Wine Auction, and the Winesong! Auction held in California.

“Hawke’s Bay’s full-bodied reds and Chardonnays are wines that can be barrel-aged and have some longevity, which makes them ideally suited as auction lots,” says Mr Buck. “Wineries that participate in the Charity Wine Auction do so from a strong sense of community involvement and a desire to give back to their region.”

The idea to establish a Hawke’s Bay charity wine auction sprung from a casual conversation in the late 80s between local winemakers, Alan Limmer of Stonecroft, John Buck of Te Mata Estate (father of the current HBWG chair), and Kate Radburnd of CJ Pask Winery. They believed there was a need for the regional wine industry to demonstrate its ability to be a contributing member of the community.

The decision to approach Libby Smales, the then director of Cranford Hospice, with the auction idea was further reinforced by the death of wine identity Jack Matheson to cancer only eight days from his diagnosis; Jack had spent his last days at Cranford Hospice.

‘Montana Jack’ as he was known, had been Montana’s sole South Island representative responsible for establishing its Marlborough vineyards, and had retired to Hawke’s Bay. He was the founding secretary of Hawke’s Bay Vintners Ltd, a forerunner to the current Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers organisation.

The first Charity Wine Auction was held in 1991 at the Hawke’s Bay Racing Centre on Saturday 2 November. There were 27 lots and 16 contributing wineries. Nineteen years later there were 40 lots and over 31 contributing wineries.

A tapestry entitled ‘Les Vendanges’ was bought by Ian Cadwallader and still hangs in the Cellar Door of his Riverside Wines today. A dinner for six by leading chef Vicki Bruns-Bolderson was another sought-after lot. Winery staff, including principals, served as wait staff.

Of the original 16 wineries, 12 are still contributing; Ngatarawa Wines, Te Mata Estate, Brookfields Vineyards, Crab Farm Winery, Church Road Winery, Esk Valley Estate, Vidal Wines, CJ Pask Winery, Stonecroft, Mission Estate Winery, Sacred Hill, and Corbans (now Pernod Ricard New Zealand).

A total of 16,416 litres has been contributed by these 12 wineries over the last 19 years (including 2010) and the total donated for their contributions alone reaches over $1 million ($1,016,490).

The highest price for a full 225 litre barrel was achieved by Mission Estate Winery with a $9,200 bid, and the highest price for a quarter barrique (56 litres) was achieved by CJ Pask Winery with a $10,000 bid.

The generosity of these wineries over the years has been impressive especially as not always do the wines reach the expected recommended retail prices (although some far exceed this).

Many of the wine lots offered are specially selected batches or made especially for the auction event. Most are not commercially available or likely to be anytime soon in any wine aficionado’s wine cellar.

In recent years wineries have had to pay the excise tax on the wines donated to the event as well as the bottling and labelling. Today, many wine lots are accompanied by commissioned art works or are decorated by renowned artists as well.

In recent years both Esk Valley and Stonecroft wines have been auctioned as a memorial lot, achieving bids of $11,000 for 12 litres (Esk Valley) and $15,000 for 1.5 litres (Stonecroft). There have been a number of tribute and memorial lots and in the 2010 June auction staunch industry supporters, Bob Walch and Richard Weston were remembered, as was young winemaker Doug Wisor, killed in an accident in 2004.

A quote from inaugural auction catalogue stated “Oceans may separate mankind, but wine unites them.” Anon. It goes on to state the two-fold purpose of the event was “to promote Hawke’s Bay wines and to strengthen our bonds with the community”. An enduring sentiment still evident as strongly held today as then.


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