Blue Poles Vineyard
This month I, with my family, buried my father. He died peacefully on 10 June in the Waikato, New Zealand, at the age of 76. The region where he was born, bred, lived and loved, and yet he always seemed larger and worldlier than that little nook in the planet. Butch was ill, had been for a while, and when Beth and I visited in May of last month it was a time where all the immediate family coalesced for the first time in decades. It felt planned but it felt spontaneous at the same time, this coming together – and when he passed away with Mum next to his bed I feel in my heart he left us with little in the way of regrets or sorrow.
Going back to New Zealand, this time for a funeral, I drove home from the airport with my older sister and we marveled at his capacity to be in charge even when not present. We talked like we knew where the conversation was leading us and we just simply enjoyed each other’s company, comfortable in ourselves and in our worlds. No pressure to impress, no pressure to define ourselves – age and a life had taken care of that for us. I arrived “home” to a quiet house, one I was brought up in, and while we went through the last days of the wake (the comings the goings, the happiness the sadness); time just waded through the shallows, ever alert but without hurry.
Gifford Cousins in childhood pose – Simon, Lynne, Jo, Me, Rachel, Rob, Jane and Emma
(Jonathon and Adam missing)
All of my family of girls made it across to spend this time with all of their greater family and the legacy of relationships my father had made fast through his lifetime. I spoke with my cousins and relatives who I had not seen for many years; I caught up with friends from my school and junior squash days, and at all times was genuinely touched by all of their stories and their strengths. The funeral went to a schedule set by my father, even the humor seemed prompted by his guiding hands, and we buried him in a cemetery amongst his friends and kin looking towards the Kaimai Mountains and surrounded by those fertile paddocks that make his town of Morrinsville a unique spot on this earth.
My father lived a life. He had farmed, became a builder by trade, sold farming properties, and worked for NZ Squash and the local council. From 1964 when a squash club was built in Morrinsville he committed himself to the sport. From his home club, to the Waikato region, and then throughout New Zealand, he played significant roles. He was so integral to the growth of the sport he became a life member at all levels by the time he was 55 and I would have as a guess he was a volunteer for nearly every event he attended up to that point. At the start of June, Butch was awarded the Queens Service Medal (QSM) in recognition of his achievements in Squash Administration – a fitting tribute that my mother will collect posthumously later in the year. He had shared the QSM secret with us back in May, and in our way the family laughed and joked about it but at the same time took note that he had made a difference, a large one.
Butch was a charismatic guy and was at ease in a room full of suits as much as the front bar of a local pub. He accrued friends easily and in his home town he could not walk down the street without raising his hand in a metronome type motion to passing traffic and fellow pedestrians. Both he and Mum also had a number of Swedish and Finnish girls come through and live in NZ with them after we kids had fled, and they became their second family with many trips to the frozen North to see this family flourish. Home is now filled with reindeer and snow images through these tempered links. He was intelligent and he was strong willed, and he could talk the leg off a table without skipping a moment’s interest from an audience.
Neilson John (Butch) Gifford, QSM, 1938-2015
We all take circuitous routes in life, nothing ever really is straight as a design, and you can either embrace the change or fight against it. My father embraced change and loved the ever flickering kaleidoscope of life – curious and ingenious he met many amazing people and did many amazing things. I thank my father for showing me and my family that life’s journey is as important as realizing life’s goals, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Rest in Peace Butch.
The 2011 Allouran will be released this month and made available firstly to the mailing list prior to being made available to the general public. This wine is the reason the vineyard was planted and developed and in many ways represents the whole concept of terroir and place within each bottle.
Please join the mailing list if you have not already done so and we would love to have you as part of our greater Blue Poles family. You may also have access to a very limited bottling of Fiano that will literally only make it to the mailing list (60 dozen made) – bottled this month and tasting sensational it will be a Summer treat that will make those warm days demand a glass of chilled awesomeness…
Blue Poles in Winter
Winter creeps in...
Rumours of the warming apocalypse have not yet made it to Margaret River, with the June temperatures very close to the average. Maybe a touch higher, but not warm enough to alter the sleep patterns of the vines which has been noted in some of the Eastern States wineries which is a worrying trend. Rainfall was well spread through the month, with only the end of the month having a drying trend which meant a few cooler nights as the clear sky chilled us down.
The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:
June 2015: Avg Maximum Temp 17.9oC (Daily Max recorded 21.7oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 9.5oC (Daily Min recorded 2.1oC)
The maximum and minimum temperature averages were quite similar, which indicates that a similar number of rain events and dry days were encountered in both months. Rainfall is a little lower due to the lower individual day rainfall totals rather than less rainy days.
June 2014: Avg Maximum Temp 17.3oC (Daily Max recorded 21.6oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 9.4oC (Daily Min recorded 4.3oC)
Pruning will continue…
…but only when I can ensure that my list of other jobs does not weigh into my quiet time amongst the vines. Off to Sydney and Melbourne for promotions left right and center and if you want a list of places I’ll be (wine in hand), drop us a line and we’ll keep you all in the loop. It’s also Tim and I’s birthday month so it is chocolate cake ahoy!!
As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or www.twitter.com/bluepoles and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.
Blue Poles Vineyard