A quintessentially Kiwi story of an accidental wine-industry trailblazer
By Allan Scott with Eric Arnold
Photography by Patrick ReynoldsThe remarkable story of Marlborough wine, from the planting of the first vines to the global success of New Zealand's billion-dollar Sauvignon Blanc industry, is also the very personal story of wine icon Allan Scott.
Allan Scott’s family winery consistently produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. His name appears on over 1.5 million bottles of wine sold around the world each year. His amazing success story is one of classic Kiwi can-do, and he tells that story in his autobiography, Marlborough Man.
From Canterbury farmhand to shearer looking for an opportunity to impress the future father-in-law, Allan Scott has become one of the pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. As such, it is inevitable that his story is also that of the rise of Marlborough and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. And, it’s one that has never been told outside the PR versions that gloss over the vital, fascinating and somewhat absurd details of a world-class wine region.
Allan was involved in planting the first vines for Montana, helped Corbans become a Marlborough wine giant, and went on to found his own hugely successful winery. He knows the real stories, the mistakes and the triumphs, the heroes and villains, and he is ready to tell the tale and set the record straight – as well as tell the personal saga of risking it all and keeping a family together, which he recounts with great humour, humility and respect for his colleagues, often unsung wine-industry heroes.
He’d be the first to admit that the Marlborough wine industry is built on the back of pure luck; early days of trial and error; and vines planted the wrong way up, with irrigation an after-thought. Its incredible winegrowing in Marlborough didn’t become a distant memory and a region known for growing apples — and nothing else.
‘Those who know me well are aware that I am my least favourite subject for discussion, yet with each passing year that Cathy and I have handed more of the family business’s daily operations on to our children – Victoria, Josh & Sara – I have filled the emptier hours reflecting on my forty plus years in the vineyards and winery. It seemed only natural to document them.’
In writing Marlborough Man, Allan sought help from Eric Arnold, an American journalist and author. Eric and Allan’s friendship dates back to a 2003 email Eric sent to Allan with a proposition to spend a year working on the vineyard for free, resulting in the book called First Big Crush (2007).
‘While I was the ghost-writer for Marlborough Man,’ says Eric, ‘these are truly Allan’s words told in his own voice. Allan’s story is, above all, endearing. People who spend time with him, know it’s his personality that draws you to his wines. My job was to channel that personality so that when you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll want to have a glass of wine with Allan, just as if you had spent the afternoon with him.’‘A fascinating and very candid record of one man’s intrepid journey from farm worker to winery owner: It should be compulsory reading for anyone who is captured by the romance of wine and tempted to plant a vineyard.’ Bob Campbell, MW.