National Bank Country Calendar on TV1 will make a toast to New Zealand winery Sacred Hill on Saturday 31st July at 7pm.

The intrepid journey of famous Hawke’s Bay winery, Sacred Hill, will feature on New Zealand’s longest running television series, National Bank Country Calendar on TV ONE, Saturday, 31 July at 7pm.

The story begins in the mid 1980s, when the Mason family boldly diversified from sheep and cattle to viticulture, transforming their stunning Dartmoor Valley farmland to new found wine country.

It was a bid to escape tough farming conditions at the time, but the Mason’s soon learned the rigours of grape producing when the original vineyard was repeatedly wiped out by drought, flood and then Cyclone Bola.

All the while, brothers David and Mark Mason were discovering their love of wine. Teaming up with friend and winemaker, Tony Bish, the Sacred Hill wine label was born. The name is derived from Puketapu – which means ‘sacred hill’ in Maori – a small village close to the estate.

Near on a quarter of a century later, Sacred Hill is one of New Zealand’s most prolific wine producers, with three vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay as well as plantings in other key wine growing territories, including Marlborough.

National Bank Country Calendar Producer, Julian O’Brien, believes the Sacred Hill story represents a significant era in New Zealand’s farming heritage.

“The Sacred Hill story is a family story – of their survival in rural New Zealand during profoundly tough times in the history of New Zealand’s farming community. The new direction they sought signified a new era in provincial New Zealand as winemaking began to explode.”

For the programme, National Bank Country Calendar focus on the Sacred Hill of today – the family life of David Mason and Tracy Haslam, raising their children  in the original Mason family homestead, the 2010 harvest and the philosophies of award-winning winemaker, Tony Bish, who shares the blending process of the 2009 Rifleman’s Chardonnay , a consistent award-winner for the brand.

Says David Mason, Managing Director of the Sacred Hill Winery:

“It has been a pleasure opening our doors to National Bank Country Calendar this year. We are very proud of our story here at Sacred Hill. To be profiled on a series that has become a New Zealand institution for telling great rural yarns, is a great thrill.

“We hope people will learn more about the Sacred Hill brand and better understand our passion for making stunning New Zealand wines.”

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