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FT-May17-eMag 41 they were looking for – a beautiful place to live with potential for the production of world-class wines. The community was colourful and diverse. They wanted their entire family to become a part of the project, so it had to be a destination both eagerly and easily reached. It was to become a second home for generations to come. “We wanted to leave a way of life and a connection to a special place on the planet,” says Craig. They were keenly aware that Waiheke was an opportunity that may never present itself again. This contemplative couple are not spontaneous people and would never make rash decisions. But the morning they were due to fly home to Canada, they were signing the papers to purchase. As we talk and watch their sons playing together outside, it still amazes them that the moment may easily have passed them by. What if they had never gotten onto that ferry in the pouring rain in 2009 and just carried on to Central Otago? On their vineyard in Michigan they could not make great wine, but they grew to understand the process by working on the vineyard and in the winery. There were big decisions to be made on Waiheke. They gave a lot of thought to the kind of winery they wanted: one of casual sophistication, encouraging relaxed informality. Children are always welcome, so too are your dogs. The winery even offers a free pick-up and drop-off service from the ferry with their “Batch Bus”, providing wonderful commentary from the long-term local driver. As owners of a large business, they’re very aware that people are the most significant factor in your success. Hiring people smarter than you are is key for Craig and Christina. Daniel Struckman is their winemaker, with previous experience in Germany, America and New Zealand. He came with the purchase and they recognised his potential immediately. As they are absentee owners for long periods, Daniel has been instrumental to their success. They keenly involve themselves in the winery, but they leave the final decisions to him and he is a superb advocate for their wines in the public domain. Ivan Aleish is their viticulturist, who they describe as a quietly focussed guy preferring to remain in the vineyard away from the limelight. But when he’s prodded to speak in public, his audience leans in, captivated by his passion. A lot of work has been done on the vineyard, pulling out inappropriate varieties and replanting. Batch Winery specialises in Chardonnay and Syrah with smaller plantings of Pinot Gris, Flora, and Riesling. Unusually for Waiheke, they produce a spicy aromatic white from Flora, a variety they inherited from the original owners. They were planning a garden at the entrance but decided that it would be a better idea to plant vines instead. They discussed what might work on the cooler site and selected Riesling, so nowadays, visitors enter the property through a welcome driveway of vines. In 2012, their beautifully sculptural winery was built, with capacity beyond their needs. The idea was to build economic success by operating on many levels. They process the fruit of other vineyards and have installed one of the few bottling lines on the island. Once again, the family have stepped in to help. Craig’s sister Rae, her husband Michael and their mother Fran initially hosted the summer crowds at Batch until the renovated restaurant was ready to open. Fran’s husband Reg would happily settle in for the summer. In recent years, Christina has worked the bar, the Front of House and stepped into the kitchen to cover for a chef on holiday. Her passion is food and she would love to work in the kitchen, but it’s in the bar that she can listen to conversation, interact and learn about what’s working well and what needs attention. She wants to know how everything works in real time so that she can practically contribute to decision-making. There are three collections of wines: Batch wines are a series of regional wines produced from grapes grown around New Zealand.  The ‘Fizz’ collection is produced on-site and made from grapes grown around New Zealand, in the Charmat method – a rarity in New Zealand. ‘Thomas & Sons’ are their premium wines made from estate-grown grapes. ‘Legacy’ is a label reserved for exceptional vintages of estate wines. And it is a legacy that Craig and Christina want their children and grandchildren to appreciate far into the future. As Craig said, “we are planting a tree that we are not going to be sitting in the shade of – it’s for the next generation, if they are interested.” Batch Winery is so beautiful he’s certain they’ll embrace their legacy. And if you’ve been there, you’d absolutely agree. Lucky reader Kristy Giles of Nelson will receive a copy of this book.

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