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Vaughan Mabee / Award winning chef / Queenstown, New Zealand
My road, the seasons. My road is driven by the seasons, finding and working with what nature provides. An ever changing harvest from both the land and the sea. Always changing yet defining of place. The seasons are my road, what’s your road?
When you first started out, did you have a clear view of your direction, or has it been an unexpected journey? Tell us about the process.
I was 13 when Dad bought the section of Bendigo Station we would eventually transform into Peregrine Estate. It was a rough block of land, and his vision of establishing a premier wine estate was considered ambitious for the region. With my brother and mates, putting posts in the ground and planting vines was simply good physical work, with the bonus of a suntan. I treated it as a holiday job on the road to a professional career as a qualified lawyer and accountant in the city – Wellington as it turned out.
However, in those formative days, the seed was sown. I knew my road would lead me back to wine. Fifteen years on it dawned on me that every visit to Central Otago and family felt like returning home, and conversely packing bags for Wellington felt like departing. Finally, I decided to swim with the tide instead of against it.
By now the winery was an established business. Rightly, Dad made it clear that I had to prove my worth. With no favors given, respect with family and the team had to be earned over the long term. While my road took a few turns, Peregrine is my passion. It gets me out of bed every morning, and our many endeavors provide a drive and enthusiasm to make the most of this unique opportunity.
Can you share any highlights with us?
Peregrine is a family business first and foremost. I get great pleasure from making decisions and taking actions that will establish the Estate as a family operation to continue for generations to come. Board meetings between Dad and myself can happen anytime - inspecting vines, feeding the cattle – as can only be the case in a family business.
Honestly, every day is a highlight for me. This industry offers so much to those lucky enough to work in it - the close affinity with nature, business management, the confluence of chemistry and art, travel, diverse people.
You have mentioned a connection with nature. Can you elaborate?
Our brand ‘Peregrine’ is named in honor of the endangered NZ Falcon. We hatch birds on-site and have contributed to the re-establishment of the population in Central Otago. Related to our second label ‘Saddleback’, we were extremely privileged to work with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, eradicating pests from smaller islands in Fiordland National Park. The subsequent introduction of highly vulnerable Saddleback birds to these safe havens is a success story.
Fortunate connections have allowed us to engage in a similar project on Resolution Island, New Zealand’s fifth-largest landmass. It is challenging work but immensely rewarding personally and for our team.
So random question to finish off. What is your favorite cocktail?
Ha! That is a topic well removed from Resolution Island.
I would say a classic Negroni from The Lodge Bar by Rodd & Gunn. Savored slowly on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.
Learn more about the Peregrine Wines story and products at www.peregrinewines.co.nz