The Beginning of the Journey.. March 2022

The Beginning of the Journey.. March 2022

Welcome to my blog!  I'm going to cheat a bit as the first several posts are going to be direct copies of my newsletters that I began in March 2022, tracking my progress from amateur home fruit winemaker to licensed seller of said wines.  I wrote these newsletters, and now publishing them here, because it's what I would've wanted to read before starting.  So here we go!

Plum wine in a glass before a plum tree

A bit of background history of Catalyst Fruit Wines if you like; (Hi! I’m SandRa!) Our family moved to rural Eketāhuna in the Tararua district near on five years ago. We live in an over 100 year old cottage and our property has some massively old specimen of trees, plum (several types), pear, (table) grape, walnut and apple mainly. We’ve supplemented with more plantings of apple and pear, apricot, feijoa, plumcot, peach, passionfruit, citrus, black currants, red currants, white currants, raspberries, boysenberries and honeyberries. Phew!

As soon as we moved here I knew I wanted to start making wine, a long held dream of mine. And so I did. And my god I loved it! I learnt many things the hard way, which in my opinion makes for a better wine maker in the long run!

Meanwhile I was (and still are) homeschooling my kids (as of this newsletter aged, 14yr, 11yr and 6 yr) and running my herb nursery Stoney Ground Herbs; my herb garden is amazing, no lie… and you will often discover that I’ve managed to squeeze a herb into my fruit wines! And I started an Instagram account called Plum Tree Cottage Wines.

And then last year happened. 2021. I could feel that my heart just wasn’t into Stoney Ground Herbs as much as it should’ve been, I was in my eighth season, I needed a new website, my website designer was mucking me about, covid was doing it’s thing and right at peak season for me I couldn’t send any plants to the upper North Island due to postage delays, turns out most of my customers were in the upper North Island. At this time I was starting to think about how I could go from hobby winemaker to “professional” winemaker, came to the conclusion that I ought to give myself another 12 years of making, developing, amassing equipment, have kids grow up etc before taking the plunge. Very safe….

Then the UN Climate Report came out in August and blow me down, there’s a bloody good chance that I don’t have 12 leisurely years to develop a new business!

All these things, separately but together provided the catalyst I needed to just go for it. Plum Tree Cottage turned into Catalyst Fruit Wines, I dropped my website designer, shut the Stoney Ground Herb doors, and started my research on what it takes to be a licensed wine seller in NZ~ hell’s bells, they do not make it easy (or cheap) for small fry like me. But I’m determined, I have a vision, and I’m going all in!

So if you’re a home winemaker intrigued on the process of going from amateur to pro, welcome. If you’re a wine imbiber interested in something different, welcome. I need to make this more snappy; but if you’re a craft beer drinkers’ partner that doesn’t like beer, welcome, I have the wine for you! Friends, whānau and general curious and supportive people, welcome!

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