Column: Well folks, that’s it for another year and what an unusual and challenging year it has been.
Of course, Covid has changed the world, it has changed how we live, work and play, and we have had to adjust to living our lives with fewer freedoms and a less care-free attitude to life.
However, the human spirit will prevail as we realise we don’t actually need many of the things we used to think of as essential.
Instead, we have learned to enjoy our wonderful region and the many things it has to offer. We don’t need to travel overseas on holiday, we don’t need to buy that luxury overseas item or imported out-of-season-food just because we can, New Zealand has almost everything we need, especially when it comes to food and beverage.
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The end of 2021 marks the end of my 21st year writing a regular column for the Nelson Mail, and I am continually astounded at how easy it has been to find remarkable people making remarkable products to write about.
It is only natural that over that time some businesses I wrote about have been sold or closed, but there are always new people with new ideas to take their place – and the quality of various foods and beverages produced and served here just seems to get better every year.
There will be more economic pain to come as we adjust to having fewer tourists visiting our region, so it’s important to remember what is important to us as a community.
Many of the businesses that are struggling to survive have worked incredibly hard over many years to ensure they deliver a quality experience for us to enjoy, they also might employ you, your neighbours, or your friends, so it is vital we support these businesses today, tomorrow and in the months to come or they will disappear.
As the last year has shown, we don’t need to compromise on quality when we shop and buy local, our tourism sector offers world-class experiences while our food and beverage producers make products that are as good, or better than, many imported premium products.
Nelson wineries have won many awards during the last 12 months but one really stands out for me, Seifried Family Estate winning numerous awards for their Seifried Family Estate Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2020, including being awarded a Gold medal at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2021, the Guala Closures NZ Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc at the same awards, the Mainfreight Trophy for Champion Export Wine, also at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2021 and scoring 95-96 Points by the Oz Clarke in the UK among the highlights for this wine.
The Champion Sauvignon Blanc award means this wine (on promotion for as little at $15) was judged as being better than anything from Marlborough that was entered in the competition.
Let’s not forget that Marlborough produces more than 70 per cent of the nation’s sauvignon blanc, so an affordable wine from a humble Nelson winemaking family winning this accolade truly is an outstanding result.
If you enjoy a nice runny imported French Brie cheese you need to try the Little River Brie produced by Thorvald and Little River cheeses, it is as good as anything you will find in the imported cheese section at your local food store. The Little River yoghurt is rich, creamy and made with milk produced by cows certified as having the double A2 gene. The milk comes from another local premium producer, Oaklands Milk.
The cheeses and other products from Thorvald (sheep cheeses) and Little River (cows milk cheeses) and handcrafted, artisan products made in their Upper Moutere cheesery, they are world-class products that are affordable.
Another cheesemaker using milk from Oaklands is ViaVio and the mozzarella they make is better than anything that has been imported frozen from overseas.
Made fresh and delivered to your local food store it is a world-class cheese. And that is only one of a small range of handcrafted cheeses made by Via Vio.
The Chia Sisters have continued their remarkable growth in the production of sustainably produced drinks, they have continued to refine their business practices looking at everything they do to try and improve their sustainability, even though they are already zero carbon certified.
This dynamic duo are leading lights in a new generation of well-educated, smart entrepreneurs as New Zealand embraces environmental sustainability in its food and beverage production. Their products are also incredibly tasty and good for you too.
Then there’s the huge number of new artisan producers who pop up at the Saturday Market, the Nelson Farmers Market, Isel Market, Motueka Market and various events around the region. These are people are taking hold of their own future and creating beautiful products for you and me to try.
Let’s not forget our beer and cider producers who are also making world-class products in this beautiful region using locally grown hops or the hardworking people growing fresh fruit and vegetables, stone fruit, pip fruit and olives to turn into world-class olive oils.
There are people making beautiful sausages, smoked fish, roasting coffee beans, producing delicious mustards and sauces, handcrafting artisan chocolates, frying up perfectly Proper Crisps, grinding peanuts into delicious peanut butter and then there are those who have brought the food culture from their home countries and make wonderful French craft pates or galettes and classic lemon meringue tarts, cook spicy Thai or Indian foods and so many more things.
As well as buying local products to take home and enjoy many local eateries feature these beautiful, tasty products on their menus, so as we get used to not travelling internationally as freely as we used to let’s embrace everything local.
This year has shown me that despite huge challenges, producers in this region are able to adapt and maintain very high standards. They deserve your support to ensure they are here in years to come.
My commitment to you for 2022 is to keep bringing you stories about the remarkable people doing everything they can to make delicious products and food for you and me to enjoy.