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Running in the Family

Neill & Co.

Mention has previously been made on this blog of the arrival in Dunedin of The Proprietor’s forebear, P. C. Neill, 150 years ago, 1861 AD.

P. C. NeillP. C. Neill, then a 19 year old lad from Belfast, following the example  of his father, promptly formed Neill & Co, merchants and importers of wines and spirits. This anniversary struck the Prop as significant: in an almost unbroken run we have been supplying the good citizens of Otago with sublime wine for 150 years.

More than that, it has become clear that from the family we are not alone in this laudable endeavour here at HQ.

As it turns out we have at least three cousins, all descended from P. C., who are also producing wines of the highest order.

  • Garry Neill  of Ballochdale  Estate, Awatere Valley, Marlborough. Ballochdale planted their first vineyards the same year as us in 1992. They grow Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, and provide grapes for no less than six companies, including Jules Taylor Wines. This year they are releasing their first Ballochdale Estate Pinot on their own account.
  • Patrick Rattray lives in the Waihopai valley at Eversley and grows a fine Pinot Noir (approx. 15 ac.) and also Sauvignon Blanc. He is a director of Jackson Estate wines and supplies them with their best Pinot Noir.
  • George Elworthy and his wife Jules Taylor own Jules Taylor Wines.  George trained as a wine maker but it is Jules who now makes the wine and George runs the business side of things and they both do the marketing. They buy grape from contract growers (mostly  Marlborough), including Pinot Noir from Ballochdale. They have won champion at the Air New Zealand Awards in Sauvignon Blanc twice now and have an excellent profile in the industry.

Stables P.C.Neill’s stables. His horses may well  have been more comfortable than his many  children

So perhaps it's true what they say, that stuff runs along family lines. Alcohol anyway. Patrick is also (fairly obviously) a Rattray, and so descended from another old family firm, Rattray & Co , who were identical to Neill & Co, so it's no real surprise that he produces top booze.

And now, 150 years later, the cousins plan together to release a very small limited Pinot in P. C.’s honour – all four will contribute a barrel of their best to a Pinot Noir, which Jules will finish. This anniversary Pinot will tentatively be called Neill & Co. We’d like to think PC would find that pleasing.

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Central Otago
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