The Wakatipu’s no place for wimps

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Wine industry pioneer Alan Brady says there’s a magic in Queenstown’s mountains that attracts the best and brightest. 

The entrepreneur – who introduced pinot noir to Gibbston valley 25 years ago and created its wine industry – was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards last Saturday. 

“I’ve never seen myself as an inspiration for anyone, but Queenstown’s an inspirational place,” he said on the night. 

“There’s a vibe here, an energy that attracts people with energy. That’s what kept me here, kept me going and inspired me. 

“There’s a magic in these mountains. It’s a challenging environment of course – it isn’t a place for wimps. 

“One of the reasons for the success of the wine industry here is we attract good young winemakers who’ve been challenged to grow grapes in a hostile environment, knowing they can make great pinot here.” 

Brady was given a standing ovation by the 340-strong audience in the Millennium Hotel’s Galaxy Ballroom. 

Among those on their feet was local Dr Sam Hazledine – 2012 New Zealand Young Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of MedRecruit, which won best Medium to Large Business. 

Hazledine says: “There’s a New Zealand word ‘turanga-waewae’ which means ‘stand tall in the place where you are’. 

“People like Alan Brady and my mentor Sir Eion Edgar stand tall, dare to dream and go after those dreams.” 

Brady first planted Gibbston grapes in 1981, and was key to developing domestic and international markets. 

The industry is now worth about $1 billion.