Doesn’t this look like the life? The elderly gent is sitting (or sleeping, it’s hard to tell) in a vinery with dark-skinned bunches of grapes hanging all around him. The photo is dated circa 1895-1905 and was taken in Palmerston North. He’s in a deck chair, there’s a log of wood for visitor and a table for their cuppa. Perfect.
The word ‘vinery’ could mean a vineyard as well as a glassed growing house like the one pictured. In 1894 it was reported that an Austrian immigrant in Kumeroa (near Woodville) was trying an ‘interesting experiment’ – growing his grapes outside! And not just one or two, he had 1200 vines planted.
In 1889 a Manawatu newspaper reporter visited a successful vinery grower in the Foxton area, with 85m under glass, and helpfully listed the delicious-sounding grapes: Mrs Pince’s Black Muscat; Black Muscat of Alexandria; Black Hamburg; Golden Hamburg; Lady Downe’s; Black Prince; Golden Champion; Golden Chasselas.
Just 3 years later, the same man had built another glazed vinery, 13m long x 5m wide. Until the vines reached bearing age, the owner intended to grow tomatoes and had planted four rows. Sadly for him, the good life was brought to an abrupt end in 1909 at the age of 44 when he was murdered by his 21-year-old son and the property subsequently sold.