Excerpt: He’s instantly recognisable as Jurassic Park’s Dr Alan Grant and pipe-smoking astronomer Cliff Buxton in The Dish, but it took a single glass of pinot noir to propel actor Sam Neill to possibly his greatest role: that of The Proprietor, as he calls himself, of the winery in New Zealand’s Central Otago, which he planted with the aim of producing a wine to “be enjoyed by my family and friends”.
It’s certainly his longest-running part in life – he planted the first of his three vineyards himself in 1993 – and probably his hardest.
Like many winemakers and wine lovers, the genesis for Neill’s love of wine came from a single glass of wine: a pinot noir. And it wasn’t even from New Zealand.
“James Mason ordered a bottle of something called Burgundy in a restaurant near Vevey [Switzerland] in 1979. It was a glass that had a Road to Damascus effect on me, and that is why I toil in those fields today,” he says.
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