Homegrown, at Neudorf

The power of narrative: part four

In the digital arena, it’s not that easy to find stories chronicling the genesis of small New Zealand wineries – or at least, to find stories that engage and delight the reader while providing an authentic point of difference for the brand. Too often, the content on an “About Us” page appears to have been generated from a template – different names can be slotted in but the descriptions remain more or less the same.

I’ve already profiled two wineries that have recognised the power of a good foundation story and made theirs a focal point in online marketing and communications: Mirabeau Wine (in Provence) and Clonakilla (north of Canberra). But what about New Zealand?

One story that stands out from the crowd belongs to Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson, on the South Island. Judy and Tim Finn are widely recognised for producing some of the greatest wines New Zealand has to offer, and their Moutere Chardonnay is frequently mentioned as one of the world’s finest examples of the variety.

In the beginning ... Judy and Tim Finn, with the Neudorf homestead in the background.

So, how did it all begin? Judy is the writer who creates the content on the Neudorf website, and her foundation story is a model of brevity (and wit):

“1978 and the New Zealand fine wine industry was almost non-existent. We (Tim and I) were fresh from the ‘back to the land’ movement of the late sixties. We wanted to make beautiful wine. We figured Tim’s masters in Animal Behaviour along with my unimpressive journalism career would be beneficial. Wrong.  However we did have youth (temporary), self belief (unwarranted) and friends. At one stage we had four mortgages and three jobs each. The old house at Neudorf had electricity in two rooms, an outside long drop, an inefficient wood stove and no hot water. I look back with no regrets.”

This little jewel follows all of the rules of a great story and even provides a narrative arc: two young back-to-the-landers decide to make beautiful wine and encounter many obstacles along the way. Note the specificity: Tim has a masters degree in Animal Behaviour (and thus belongs in a rather select group of New Zealand scientists who have turned their hands to making fine wine); Judy has a background in journalism (ably demonstrated by her mastery of the art of storytelling). Their decision comes at a cost and involves significant hardship: four mortgages and three jobs each, outdoor plumbing and no hot water. Crikey!

The beautiful homestead at Neudorf, in the here and now.

In terms of the archetypes I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Neudorf Vineyards epitomises a classic: the happy (or hippie?) accident that eventually turns into a lifelong commitment to wine (following an inevitable transition from a lifestyle archetype to that of the artisan). As always,  the beauty is in the details that make this a truly authentic story that only two people can own.

The Neudorf saga has taken a lifetime, and I guarantee that you will be able to taste that commitment and craft in their lovely wines.

Every winery has a story to tell – and I’d love to help you tell yours. You can contact me by using the link on my “About” page or just post a comment below.

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One Comment

  1. SeniorNet Nelson
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Great story…perfect future..thanks!