Wine and cricket have formed a new – and possibly world-first – match in the Wakatipu.
A girls’ representative game this week launched a new cricket ground – complete with artificial wicket – at Gibbston’s Waitiri Creek Wines.
The ground was first conceived when Waitiri Creek owners Paula Ramage and Alistair Ward established their vineyard in 1993.
“It seemed like a natural progression given the fabulous setting and the space we had,” Ramage says.
The steps down from their cellar door – a converted church – were even planned to double as spectator seating, Ramage says.
The ground arose from a collaboration with Southland Cricket.
After Waitiri Creek started sponsoring Southland Cricket, its general manager Ian Mockford asked Ramage and Ward how they could help them.
Mockford: “Alistair said ‘We’ve always wanted a cricket ground’, so we’ve assisted with it.
“I said, initially, junior games are what you want because with the players come their parents and families so
you’ve got mums and dads sitting on the balcony, drinking wine and eating food from the restaurant.”
Mockford says Southland Cricket hopes to stage six to 10 games at Waitiri Creek every season.
“We’ve talked about having a few of our pre-season club matches, when our weather’s terrible in Southland.
“There’s bits and pieces to be done on the outfield, over the next couple of seasons, but it’s really got every opportunity to succeed.”
Ramage says an interested spectator on Tuesday was former Black Caps captain Lee Germon, now the Canterbury Cricket chief executive.
Germon was watching his eldest daughter play for a Canterbury under-15 side against a composite Otago/Southland selection.
Ramage: “He said to me, ‘I think it’s so good, we’re in touch with all the heritage cricket players, all the masters guys, the socials, this is a fabulous ground for this’.”