Profile by Ophelia Harradine Bayly of Roses Dining Room

We met Holly at that goddam dinner party that Amy of Halcyon Days organised when we were down in Hawke’s Bay and that we keep mentioning. We loved Holly’s enthusiastic giddy energy and knew our paths would cross again.

Growing up, Holly’s dad was a winemaker. Her whole life he was the head winemaker at Esk Valley so while this could be an “inspired from birth” story, it most definitely is not. Despite having grown up with the winery as her second home and the place her dad would disappear to for months at a time during harvest, Holly had next to no interest in any of it. The only debut wine made in her young life was when she decided to do her year 9 science project on “the impact of different yeast strains on Hawkes Bay Chardonnay” aka roped her dad in to do the project for her. 

Fast forward to adolescence, Holly was having a bit of a tough time at home and so headed off to boarding school in Napier where she discovered the joys of wine - through the art of drinking it in excess. After school Holly moved to Wellington and worked at Sweet Mothers Kitchen which at the time was the hot place for hospo lovers, Holly loved working there and is still friends with the crew to this day (all who have gone on to do great things, HELLO Margot in Newtown!) 

Holly also earned a degree in Geography (where she luckily opted for the BSC version and not the BA version) that would later grant her quick entry into her wine science diploma almost 5 years later. For a hot minute, she worked in the Wellington Govt call centres earning mean cash but losing the will to live and it was here in her dead end desk job that she thought maybe she should actively try and look for something she found remotely interesting. Unsure of where to start but deeply aware that she knew nothing about wine (her friends were always asking questions despite her ignorance) she decided this was perhaps somewhat embarrassing given her lineage and decided to roll up to a blind tasting with Geoff Kelly in order to do some basic upskilling. The tasting was a really relaxed environment with zero snobbery, everyone there was genuinely curious and Geoff was throwing around beautiful words like florality. It was then that Holly finally realised the magic of wine; wine is a day in a bottle, it’s the weather, it's the land and it’s bottled history. Safe to say Holly was hooked. 

From here on in, Holly was now committed to some sort of life in wine and moved to London where she was the junior bitch in a wine-buying team but she got to try literally everything and where she also was granted a fancy email address earning access to world-class tastings. When she came back to Aotearoa she decided to formalise her wine obsession with some academic training and enrolled to study Wine Science at Goldie Estate on Waiheke. 

Holly then went on to do three vintages at Elephant Hill between 2018 & 2021. The timing of life meant she never actually got to work a vintage with her Dad at Esk Valley before it was decommissioned but the silver lining to this is that Holly's entry into the wine world has always been completely on her own terms and driven by her own passion. 

Holly then went to Canada to work for a biodynamic vineyard that she was super excited about, but it turned out to be all talk and so she ended up back in New Zealand feeling a bit deflated. Whilst chilling in Hawke’s Bay she met up with an old school friend who mentioned that her parents had this vineyard they were struggling with. She knew the site having done some work on that exact vineyard as a teen, though a fear of spiders meant she didn’t last long. 

Holly then went and did a really bloody fun vintage in Australia for Mac Forbes cementing her love for the craft of harvest and winemaking. Her friend's parents and their struggling vineyard was parked in her mind and on return to NZ (hello covid) she decided to reach out to them. They immediately offered her the block to manage and she accepted with little hesitation. The Three Fates seed had been sown.

Three Fates is Holly, Hester and Casey. The trio have serendipitous overlaps in their wine journeys having worked at the same wineries but at different times over a 10 year period. Some would say Fate haha bought them together. When Holly was offered the block to manage she immediately got Hester on board and the pair then wrangled Casey into the fold knowing that although they didn’t all know each other super well, they all shared the fundamental philosophies and together they would play well and hopefully cultivate something magic. 

They spent the next few months bringing the vineyard back to life before Holly then bargained the use of her works winery (thanks Steve) and Three Fates was created - essentially on a whim over too many wines at Casey’s shack.

These days Holly is the assistant winemaker at Decibel Wines, Casey is studying to be a nurse in Wellington and Hester drives tractors on her family farm in Waipukurau - and in the abundant (haha) free time they all have, they make wine. Three Fates is now in its fourth season. Having day jobs alongside Three Fates has allowed Holly, Hester and Casey to be winemakers for themselves without the pressures of volume and sales, letting creativity reign. 

Holly, Hester & Casey have always wanted to make delicious wine for their mates to enjoy. Three Fates is an ever-evolving project but the trio are committed to their shared philosophy of working intuitively, responsively and thoughtfully, both respecting the path of nature and staying curious to the possibilities of low intervention when they deem required. 

We are only just getting to know Holly but she strikes us as someone who is super good at underselling herself. She described herself to us as a bit awkward and honestly we couldn't disagree more. Holly has a good spirit, you can just kinda tell and she really really fucking loves making wine and she really really fucking loves Hestor and Casey - she is the OG proud mom. The joy she gets from making, creating and talking about wine quite literally radiates emanates from her grape-soaked pores.  We think we should all be looking to find the thing that we can love as much as Holly loves winemaking. 

Read more by Ophelia and visit Roses.


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