Our LazyDog® is symbolic of the change in Central Otago from sheep farm to include the modern wine farm, giving rise to the first stage of our business, based initially in Bannockburn, and marketing our neighbour’s wines.
We came back from Guernsey in January 2005 and started the restaurant in Bannockburn next to the Akarua vineyard in March 2005. We had 9 weeks to wait for the property so I worked on an orchard and Dean worked for Robin Dicey at Grape Vision. It took about three weeks for Dean to become convinced he wanted his own vineyard !!!
Once we started the business and settled in and we quickly made friends with many of our customers, many of whom were involved in the wine industry one way or another! Whilst we were completely independent of Akarua in a commercial sense, they were right next door so we could hardly avoid becoming immersed in the wine industry. It was all around us.
So in a nutshell we have learned everything about wine that we know so far from:
- Working on Friends vineyards, to help out pruning and harvesting
- Reading loads of books, articles, surfing the net fro information, talking to nurseries etc.
- Planting grapes and growing them ourselves at Queensberry
- Our friends many of whom are vineyard owners, viticulturists and/or wine makers, particularly Chris Hill of Locharburn – one of our 6 business partners. There are a lot of other people who have contributed to our learning and this should never be underestimated. We asked so many questions and they answered them all!
- Talking day in and day out with other growers & wine makers
- Talking with Sales Reps from Fertiliser companies
After the first year in Bannockburn we set out to buy our own property and develop a self sufficiency based life-style. It took until September 2008 to develop the business model, find the land, and secure additional finance.