It has been so long since I have done anything on the West Wine project – I am embarrassed. Spurred on by the new growth and ripening Syrah at Artisan , just down the road, I am keen to move things along a little. Looking forward to the talk by Keith Stewart next Tuesday as presented by the West Auckland Historical Society.
So I had the opportunity to go see what remains of that little ‘stone’ building recently. It is a little off topic, but I do find the story interesting. What I was struck by was the amazing view right back to the city for this spot on the Sapich Wines property.
I must have been the only person in West Auckland who did not realise that this stone building was part of the set for Vintner’s Luck. Anyway, it now lies in ruins after the recent strong winds. There are no plans to rebuild it.
The vineyard on Forest Hill Road was established in 1945 as Forest Hills Wines. Steve Sapich explained that because of a confusion with the Forrest Hill Road on the North Shore it was decided to change the name later to its current Sapich Wines. I was lucky enough to be given one of the original labels for their Cherry Brandy.
The caption partnered to this photo from Dick Scott’s Winemakers of New Zealand ( 1964 ) reads, ” A monument to prohibition’s absurdities , the little building ( right ) is a depot where it was legal for A.A.Corban and Sons to sell their wines when it was illegal to do so from the cellars ( left ) where they were made. For ten years after 1908 the railway was the boundary between ‘ wet’ and ‘dry’ electorates. The depot still stands, preserved as part of history, the cottage has been merged with larger buildings but patches on the wall show where the three circular windows ( from Auckland’s old Town Hall ) were opened.”
I have yet to discover who took this photo – but will keep working on this one. Would be good also to know when this little cellar was last used commercially.
My version taken … 19th July 2010
I am presuming this view will change with the electrification of the rail network in Stage 2 of that project.
View from Great North Road with other Corban’s building in behind.
19th July 2010
Interior View, I am presuming that these wooden shelves would have been used for holding stock.
19th July 2010
I have to say I was surprised that the door has been broken down and large portions of the interior walls covered in graffiti. My understanding was that this building was being protected because of its heritage value. Symbolically this building represents so much and must be preserved and cared for far more than it currently is with the odd replenishment of the paint on the exterior walls. With the dual line going in much closer to the building – I can imagine vibration could be an issue over time. The line is much closer now than it ever has been. Be good to follow this up with the Council.
Second visit to Mazuran’s now, a few weeks ago I chatted with Rado ( Senior ) and today with his youngest of three sons, also called Rado Hladilo. It was great to meet him and see the determination first hand to make sure this vineyard, established in 1938, does not suffer the fate of so many others.
There are a couple of things which amaze me about this vineyard. Firstly that all the fortified wines produced here are from the grapes grown on the site – it seems that this is a rarity in West Auckland now, and secondly that Vintages from 1942 through to 1991 are available off the shelf ! Perhaps one day I will get the 1958 Vintage. Throughout this time the labels have remained largely unchanged.
As I write this I am enjoying a glass ( or two ) of the 2005 Directors Port. This winery has won many awards through the years – but this Port won a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Fair 2005 – the only in the world to do so – despite entries from all over the world, including the home of Port. Portugal !
A true West Auckland wine.
Today started out with a bit of a hunt for the location of Paul Groshek’s Muaga Vineyard and in particular the underground cellar. I was so intrigued by the stories I have read about this ingenious man – especially as told by Dick Scott in his wonderful book ” Fire On The Clay”, which I managed to find recently. Stopped in to chat with Steve Sapich ( Sapich Wines ) as I noticed that the small shed set in amongst his vines ( which I wanted to photograph when the vines next looked their best ) looked to be collapsed. This apparently happened in the past week as a result of the extremely high winds. [ What I did not realise was that this was in fact made of polystyrene and formed part of the set for Vintler's Luck , the movie ... ] Steve was able to give me a general direction to the Groshek property. I did find the house, which has now had a modern annex. The current owners could not assist with the location of the cellars – something which they were happy to allow further investigation. Would be great of I could get someone who had visited this vineyard in its prime, to come have a look. I look forward to taking the owners up on the invitation of come back and photograph what remains of the homestead.