The pick of the bunch
Kim and Graham Gilkison celebrated with their own sparkling wine when it was announced their vineyard Dancing Petrel, had won Top Energy’s $30K Business Development Fund.
The twelve-hectare vineyard planted on the northern slopes of Paewhenua Island, overlooks magnificent views of Mangonui Harbour and the harbour entrance to the Doubtless Bay.
Kim spent a lot of time in Northland growing up and fell in love with Paewhenua Island when revisiting the region in 2012 over a wet Christmas.
The timing was fortuitous as the original cottage was for sale. The couple spent six years commuting between Mangonui and Taranaki and in 2018 purchased the vineyard, sealing their commitment to the Far North.
Their hard work is paying off and the vineyard is being restored to its former vigour where Arneis, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tannat, Rose, Chambourcin grape varieties thrive in the micro climate of Paewhenua Island.
Dancing Petrel has gone through the rigorous process of becoming a NZ Wines accredited sustainable vineyard, the vines were reorganised, and 5000 new plantings made. With careful management production almost doubled and they are now looking at export opportunities.
It has become one of the region’s largest vineyards and boasts some of Northland’s finest prize-winning wines.
Kim was thrilled when wine connoisseur Michael Cooper awarded five stars to their Tannat and 4.5 starts to the Cabernet Franc and Viognier 2019. The Rose, Pinot Gris and Viognier 2018 are all four stars and excellent drinking. They have just received a five star for their Late Harvest Reisling.
Dancing Petrel is a popular destination on Northland’s wine trail and visitors have flocked to the tasting room as news of the revitalised vineyard has spread through the grapevine.
This is just the start though. The couple have a vision to produce delicious quality wines, reflective of the beautiful location and climate, showcasing them alongside a cuisine that uses locally sourced foods, supporting the community and to be economically and environmentally sustainable.
The plan is to open a tasting room café in time for the 2022 summer season.
Taking advantage of the location, sun and views, their aim is to entice the surrounding community and Northland wine trail visitors to enjoy their hospitality, taste wines and sample produce from the local area. Unique to the region, it’s a wonderful opportunity to boost the local economy.
Kim and Graham will use the $30k grant to contribute towards training vineyard staff, hiring a chef and training café staff, as well as focusing on market development of Dancing Petrel.
The judges admit they always find it difficult selecting a winner from the high-quality applications they receive, but the Dancing Petrel submission was well thought out and researched.
It demonstrated initiative, market knowledge, a clear understanding of business, as well as offering the biggest economic impact and opportunity.
Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw says the company is focused on supporting business initiatives that economically benefit the local communities the businesses are in.