“It gets so flippin’ hot out in that vineyard. These guys work so, so hard. I’m so proud of them. The leaf plucking and all that stuff, if you don’t have everything right in the vineyard, you can’t make nice wines. Really. You can make adequate wine, but you can’t make absolutely stellar wine.”
Summer Bell is the winemaker at Stonyridge Winery on the island of Waiheke, about an hour ferry ride east of New Zealand’s capital city of Auckland. Stonyridge has 25 acres (10 hectares) of vines from which it produces four red wines. She is in her mid-thirties. She commutes to Waiheke island via ferry every day, using her two mopeds – ‘scooters’ – to take her between ferries, home and work.
The location is beautiful.
“The less you stuff around with things the better I reckon. It’s like on these ferments. When the ferment starts you’re just looking after babies. So if they’re hungry you feed them. If they’re too hot you cool them down. If they’re too cold you warm them up. So you’re minding them without too much interference.”
“Sometimes when you work in a boutique winery it’s like ‘holy s*&%, this just happened. What are we going to do?’ You have to really think on your feet. Some days I’d prefer that. Some days I’d rather that didn’t happen.”
“Having that tangible, amazing thing that you’ve made in your hand at the end of the day.”
Her favorite part?
“The magic kinda happens, I reckon, when you blend to create the icon wine. Create something from all those components. Something polished and beautiful. That’s really cool. And that’s all an experiment too. That’s really exciting.”
“Yep, get on the scooter in Auckland, get on the ferry, then get off the ferry, jump on my other scooter and come up here. It’s so cool. My flying ride. I went to a 1975 Honda chalet. He had the one he rode that he sold me. His name was Max so I called it Max. I saw a Simpsons episode where Homer decided to change his name to Max Power. I decided to call it Max Power because it’s 70 cc.
“I’ve been lots of places in the world but I still love coming home. Some days I’m coming over on the ferry and there’s a pod of orcas, or dolphins, or whatever it is. And I’m on this boat, the water is like glass. If I’m heading home I’ve got a beer in my hand. Or cup of tea in the morning. And I look out the window, and, wow. How lucky am I? I’m going to this little island off the shore of the mainland of New Zealand where the valley that I work in sits at 30 degrees for a lot of the summer. Full of grapes for me to make amazing wine out of. Got a cat and a dog here that are awesome. I love my job. It’s cool. I’m lucky. Yeah. I’m so grateful that I’m here.”