Tuesday, 01 March 2016 15:40

Popping up in central

Written by  Mark Orton
Two Paddocks GM Jacqui Murphy and Sam Neill toast the pop-up cellar door. Two Paddocks GM Jacqui Murphy and Sam Neill toast the pop-up cellar door.

What do you get when you cross a tranquil walnut grove on one of Central Otago's most prized wine-roads, with a glistening spaceship-like caravan?

Well, for Two Paddocks owner Sam Neill that equates to a pop-up cellar door.

With four vineyards spread over Gibbston, Bannockburn and Earnscleugh, having a central focus point for the Two Paddock's cellar door is geographically challenging, so Neill figured they would try something a little different this summer.

Looking suitably relaxed mixing with visitors to the pop-up cellar door, Neill is happy to chat about wine but even happier to chat about his Airstream. The über shiny aluminium behemoth is something of beauty.

With a shape that dates back to the 1930s, and polished to within an inch of its life, why did Neill get a 1982 Airstream?

"I've just always had a thing about them, when one drives past I stop the car. I always thought it would be so cool to have one in New Zealand, as there are only a handful here, he says.

Likening the iconic caravan to a piece of sculpture sitting in a paddock, Neill gets to stay in the mobile home from time-to-time, and even puts up certain wine writers when they are passing through the area, through he won't say who has stayed in it.

"Well you have got to be the right sort of person to stay in it and I'm not allowed to say who has met the brief as they may have had company when using it, and I should be discreet...it's actually quite romantic inside".

All humour aside, Neill always sensed the potential for his Airstream to be used in a multitude of ways, but he is still a little taken aback by the popularity of the pop up cellar door which was his brainwave. "To be honest, I don't know if they are here for the wine or the airstream. If they are airstream lovers that learn to drink wine, then our job here is done."

Just trying to steer the conversation back to wine is tricky, especially when Neill starts to wax lyrical about the 70's styling in the interior of the Airstream. But, with a constant stream of people still lining up to have a tasting, and food flying out of the mobile caterers kitchen, he gives credit for the logistics to general manager Jacqui Murphy.

"I can take no credit for that at all, I didn't have a clue. I thought we would just park up on the road somewhere, but this is Duncan Forsyth's (Mount Edward) paddock and he very generously let us park here next to our Fusilier vineyard. Based on the success of this, next year we should probably do a joint pop-up cellar door with Mount Edward...or he might just chuck me out and go it alone."

Certainly the easy access and rustic nature of the pop-up cellar door is something that is proving very appealing to the multitudes of summer visitors to Central Otago. Being able to grab a table under a tree with some tasty food and try some wines is something a little removed from many conventional cellar door experiences.

"I just think, loosening up the 'wine' thing is great. You don't just have to drink wine at somewhere that you need to book... if that makes sense.

"There is obviously a case to be made for exclusivity, but I always think back to many years ago when I first got interested in art. It was maybe 15 years after I first got into art that I actually had enough money to buy a decent painting. Fortunately, the art dealer Peter McLeavey cultivated young people like myself, because he knew we were the collectors of the future.

"Hopefully it's not all old grey people like me, you want to expand the wine business a wee bit. I'm not impressed by big ostentatious wineries, something humble like this is more my speed."

Showcasing all the Two Paddocks Pinot Noirs and Rieslings along with some selected older vintage Pinots, Neill's cunning take on the pop-up phenomenon is certainly a hit but what does he want visitors to take away from the experience?

"It's nice to make our presence felt here on Felton Road, even if it is only for a couple of weeks. Just fly the flag a bit.

"I also hope it is an extremely meaningful revelation and they have an enhanced appreciation of Airstream caravans."

Though, just in case anyone reading this has aspirations to get an Airstream of their own, Neill is not only coy about how much his cost (he won't say), but mentions that there is a bit more to the purchase than simply raising the necessary readies.

"Well I got this one off my friend Stu in Queenstown and the first thing you have to do is prove to him that you are worthy...and only then, he might think about selling one to you."

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