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Book review: Pinot Central: A Winemaker’s Story

A good Central Otago pinot is imbued with the dust and the scrub of its provenance. Alan Brady, like his fruit, turned out to be the right grape in the right place.

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Pinot Central: A Winemaker’s Story

By Alan Brady (Penguin, 2010) $67

It’s easy to imagine Alan Brady was working to a master plan: figure out which bit of Central Otago would be best for planting grapes, snap it up for a song, throw in a gang of talented winemaking experts and despatch the product to the world’s foremost wine critics to rave about. That’s how you get things done.

But no—as Brady tells the story, he bought the Kawerau Gorge property as a simple escape from running TV One’s then-busy Dunedin newsroom. As with any great enterprise, synchronicity plays its part, and that’s as it should be: a good Central pinot is imbued with the dust and the scrub of its provenance. Brady, like his fruit, turned out to be the right grape in the right place.

This is a personal tale. Children arrive and grow up, friends come and go, tragedy, divorce, success and disappointment, and eventually Brady moves on from the vineyard and starts another.

It’s sometimes uncertain whether it’s a coffee table book or a memoir, and in places I wished it had a more assertive editor, but Brady’s adventure is always engaging. Don’t expect a blueprint for creating a successful business, but it’s an inspirational story and does remind the reader of at least one thing that Brady and the other pioneers of Central Otago wine got right: their willingness to collaborate at every step.