I spent quite a bit of time with Murray Paterson. He works as an independent viticulturalist and consults to several of the operations in the Wairau and Awatere valleys. While touring the various micro climes of the Blenheim area of Marlborough, I was able to see differences in growing styles and approaches by the vineyards in the area. There were traditional styles as well as organic practices in place. Still a few weeks out from the harvest we stopped and tasted ripening Sauvignon Blanc fruit that was already shaping up to be the classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc flavor profile. He showed me subtle nuances that had a dramatic effect on the fruit with different plant strains of Chardonnay that would be used as a base for the sparkling wines or "bubbles".
The winemaking styles here in Texas helped me quite a bit in the lab setting. I was able to use my palate to help assess the samples coming in and equate the numbers that we were getting to the taste of the samples - for example, if the acidity seemed different to what the expected number should be for ripening fruit. Of course I stayed on the move taking in the lifestyle there. I had my first authentic fish and chips experience in Picton and even caught a glimpse of an exotic Russian super-yacht.