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Crunching the Numbers for a Passion Project

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How many of you actually turn your passion project into a profitable business?

Most of us toil away at the job we are told is best suited to us. From the womb to the tomb we plug away, giving approximately 33% away to the man at the end of every fiscal year.

Alright, done with the melancholic rant. While most of us struggle to escape the grind, there are the lucky select few among us who manage to spread our wings and take off.

The runway is long, however, and it sometimes takes years to learn how to strengthen those flying muscles. Nothing good ever came from doing something once and then never again.

An island nothing short of paradise plonked right in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf isn’t a bad start, though. I mean, if it all goes pear-shaped and nothing happens from your pipe dream, you can always channel Castaway and befriend the coconuts in the trees.

While you won’t find coconuts in any trees on Waiheke Island, you will find beaches, ocean views and near perfect wine growing conditions.

The year was 1992, and two ambitious twenty-somethings decided it would be a good idea to try living their dreams out loud. Their plans were indeed zealous: to buy a lifestyle block in the middle of nowhere, set up a vineyard that would (hopefully) grow some grapes, and live off the land.

Now, you’ll never guess the jobs that they’d left behind on the Mainland. I’ll give you a clue: they involved numbers, math, and almost no human interaction.

Both being accountants, it’s no wonder that Robyn and Nicholas Jones sought a way out of life as they knew it. While buying a piece of bare land and living off it with no promise of a profitable harvest sounds tough, staying in the stagnant business of accounting somehow sounds tougher.

Thank goodness they decided to give up crunching the numbers. Thank God Himself that two people who knew absolutely nothing about hospitality or winemaking chose to try both – because it sure as hell has paid off.

Let’s turn to the present day. We’re now clocking in eighteen years since they opened Mudbrick restaurant and twenty years since they planted their first grapes. Nick and Robyn have matured, and so have their plants – although they haven’t given up on trying new varietals.

As you may have guessed, neither shielded their eyes from the sun as they looked back on the Mainland, wishing they were holed up in an accounting office. You also won’t be surprised to hear that neither ex-accountants have grown tired of drinking wine and complementing it with beautiful tasting food.

Mudbrick Winery Varietals

Francesca 2017 Waiheke Island: this 2017 Chardonnay is described as a ‘magnificently complex bouquet.’ It is a flagship, premium variety of Mudbrick. If you have the correct conditions and the stars are aligned, you can cellar this gorgeous drop from 2018 to 2025.

This is a complex, powerful wine with a great texture.

Pinot Gris 2018: Mudbrick’s 2018 Pinot Gris brings together beautiful aromas of quince, apple, pear and geranium petals – of all things. You will experience spice and fruit characters on the palate that give way to a long, crisp finish.

Noble Riesling 2017: we all know the sweetness levels of a Noble Riesling, and Mudbrick’s Marlborough variety doesn’t disappoint. Let me catch my breath before I rattle off the long list of aromas you may experience with this wine: spice, marmalade, pie crust, dried apricot, and lemon curd. Rest assured that all of these are intense.

The palate of this Noble Riesling is rich and powerful that is balanced with a strong sweetness. The finish is long and lingering.

The 90’s were ideal for people like Nick and Robyn who had a bit of startup capital, some gusto and a great attitude towards trading their walled offices for bare land with nothing on it.

While you may have missed the boat – excuse the pun – on the ease of this pipe dream, there’s no reason why you can’t live vicariously through the success of these two math experts. Let’s drink to calculations.

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