Vineyard Virgins

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The unexpurgated memoir of a passionate pioneer winemaker Kim Goldwater. An intriguing account of how to succeed as a grapegrower and winemaker…plus a lot more !


When Kim and Jeanette Goldwater planted their first tiny vineyard on a couple of hillside acres on the magical island of Waiheke, just 15 miles east of Auckland City, all the leading experts warned them that grapes would not grow in that inclement salt-laden environment.

The Goldwaters, both 4th generation New Zealanders, had no experience of winemaking, but doggedly persisted with their island experiment and eventually proved the sceptics wrong by winning numerous international awards for their wines.

This success encouraged them to expand their enterprise, first into Marlborough and then into the Hawkes Bay, to eventually become one of New Zealand’s largest and most prestigious winegrowers.

In this story, Kim Goldwater relates just how this couple of ingenuous Kiwi battlers succeeded in creating a world-renowned winegrowing enterprise on that remote little antipodean island. He captures the passion, optimism and determination in overcoming the numerous obstacles thrown in their path by the vagaries of the weather, the experts and the bureaucracy.

Not only did they succeed in their endeavour, but flourished – against all odds – the reality of their enterprise far exceeding their dream. Vineyard Virgins chronicles their fascinating and inspiring journey.


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Author Bio

Kim Goldwater was born on Auckland’s North Shore in 1937. He studied Engineering at Auckland University and graduated with a Batchelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. He and his wife, Jeanette, travelled overseas where he worked as a Civil Engineer, spending three years in London and two years in Spain, before returning to New Zealand.

Their time in Spain gave them a love of fine wine and the understanding that New Zealand could also produce wine of a similar high quality. This led them to establish a pioneer vineyard on Waiheke Island. Their success in this venture encouraged them to expand  production into Marlborough and later Hawkes Bay, to become one of the largest and most prestigious wine producers in New Zealand.

Editorial Reviews

“An extraordinary journey involving great risk, extreme hard work and dogged tenacity.  A “must read” for anyone who has ever felt a twinge of envy for the lifestyle of a winemaker…”

Bob Campbell, MW

“Goldwater writes competently and often amusingly. He traces the winery’s rapid growth via Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, export and merger, offering anecdotes about winemaker’s sex lives and the boozy antics of merchants…”

Reviewed by Michael Cooper

NZ Listener

18th May 2013

“I have recently read your memoir from cover to cover and found it to be a riveting read; funny, informative, and just a rollicking good tale. I not only felt I got to know the Goldwaters as a family but also the wider pioneering whanau of winemaking; when I turned the last page, I felt lonely, all those wonderful personalities so delightfully portrayed.  At times it was like putting a jigsaw together.”

Hilary Beaton

Director/CEO Downstage Theatre

“Wow! What a great story… Really enjoyed reading it.”

John Caldwell

Napa Valley, California

“Your story so absorbed me that I read it in a single sitting between an early breakfast and a very late dinner! Thank you.”

Lyle Wheeler

Piha, Auckland

“Wonderful, wonderful book – may the great life go on and on!”

Lady Florence Davies

Farndon, Newark-on-Trent, UK

Five Stars:”A great example of what passion, dedication, hard work and a generous spirit can achieve. Fun, easy interesting reading. Truly inspiring.”

Jeremy, website comment. (Verified Purchase)

Five Stars: “I absolutely loved this book. Like “Water for Elephants” I ignored my poor family for an entire weekend to read this! This book is real. Written by a real person who with his family did something remarkable with very little support from ‘the powers that be’. It is more than a story about starting a successful vineyard from scratch. It doubles as a history of the unique community that the writer is an indelible part of. Amazing.”

Reviewed by TL Blackman

Goodreads website

Not only did Kim & Jeanette Goldwater plant and nurture their Waiheke Island vineyard and acquire various others, but they went on to produce some of the best wines made in New Zealand. For over thirty years they put their heart and soul into growing the best vines they could. This is their story – full of ups and downs, pleasure and pain, and ultimately a huge international success story with a fairytale ending. Inspiring reading – especially with a glass of Goldwater wine close to hand.”

Reviewed by Doris Mousdale

Arcadia Books (Newmarket, Auckland ) for Verve Magazine

Complimentary First Chapter