The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 53 of 108

{ }  53 When Peter Yealands climbed up the crest of Seaview and looked out at the rugged, wind-blown landscape, he knew he had stumbled upon one of the best vineyard sites in New Zealand. "I immediately fell in love and never looked back," he recalls. Inspired by a vision, he acquired the property, climbed aboard a bulldozer and worked day and night to re-contour the land, filling ravines, smoothing gullies and terracing hills. Yealands transformed the scrappy pastoral land into a 1,000-hectare (2,500-acre) vineyard com - prised of 133 blocks—the largest privately-owned vineyard in New Zealand. He then built one of the most eco-friendly winery operations in the world, Yealands Family Wines—the sixth largest wine producer in New Zealand and a global champion of sustainable viticulture. Burly, wild-haired and white-bearded, Peter Yealands possesses character traits reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway, Jane Goodall and Grizzly Adams—more at home on a tractor than in a boardroom. His innovative "can-do" attitude, pioneering spirit and unbridled passion are the stuff of local legend, while his practical know-how, hands-on diligence and keen business sense established him as a leader among New Zealand vintners. Where others only dream, Yealands routinely converts lofty ideals into tangible accomplishments. His entrepreneurial vision propelled him along an eclectic career path that included stints as a civil engineer, sheep shearer, greenshell mussel cultivator (he was granted New Zealand's first aquaculture license in 1971) and deer farmer. In true Circle of Life fashion, a chance expedition to seek out a fresh source of hay for his deer directed him to the slopes of Seaview. Located atop an upthrusted fault line in the Awatere Valley of Marlborough, one of New Zealand's most geographically distinct sub-regions, Yealands Seaview Vineyard is now an oasis of sustainable grape growing and a source of elegant, award-winning wines. The volcanic ter - rain Yealands once described as a "wasteland" blossomed into a place where Babydoll sheep and Kunekune pigs freely roam between perfectly straight grapevine rows, munching on flowering weeds and grass. Free range chickens strut and peck at insects to rhythmic flour- PHOTO COURTESY OF YEALANDS Founder and owner Peter Yealands and winemaker Tamra Kelly-Washington in the Seaview Vineyard.

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