Viva: Three Fates are a new generation of wāhine winemakers

Jo Burzynska - Viva Magazine December 8th 2022. Read here.

Winemaking used to be a male-dominated occupation, but in recent years it’s been encouraging to see more sisters excelling in the winery and vineyard.

One new all-female project to watch is Three Fates, the Hawke's Bay label started by Holly Girven Russell, Hester Nesbitt and Casey Motley.

It was fate that brought the trio together. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 saw both Holly and her friend Hester forced to return home from their winemaking jobs in Australia.

Almost as soon as she’d touched down, Holly secured the lease of a small vineyard in Maraekākaho, attracted by its slope and interesting mix of grape varieties.

Too much to handle alone, she contacted Hester, who came on board. They then recruited Casey for her vineyard skills, and the triumvirate was complete.

All three bring considerable wine experience spanning the globe, which includes work at prestigious wineries such as Burgundy’s Domaine de Montille, François Villard in the Northern Rhone and the Yarra Valley’s Mac Forbes.

Nevertheless, as Holly notes, finding opportunities to progress to full-time positions in the smaller wineries they wanted to work in remains a struggle for women. It’s still rare to find an all-women wine enterprise like Three Fates, which she describes as a “lifesaver for all three of us”.

Currently available is Three Fates' deliciously drinkable Hawke's Bay Cabernet Franc 2021 with its soft, ripe and juicy blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Watch out for a still and pét-nat rosé, Arneis and Albarino as well when they're released later this year.

Holly is excited about the potential of alternative varieties like these in Hawke’s Bay, and grateful for the support of the “huge crew of women working in wineries” in the region. Some in particular have been incredible, says Holly.

“And they all seem to make killer Franc. I wonder if there’s something in that!”

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