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Grape expectations .. Oamaru's Sue Mansworth has recently established Waitaki Wine Tours and also wants to bring back the Oamaru Wine Club. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

After more than 20 years in the wine industry, Oamaru woman Sue Mansworth plans to share her knowledge with people who appreciate a fine vintage.

She recently established Waitaki Wine Tours, a venture that ferries people to and from the Waitaki district’s several vineyards to get a taste of what the region has to offer.

The five-hour tours are small – limited to half a dozen people at a time – but larger tours are also offered by arrangement.

They offer tastings at three or four vineyards, lunch and winery tours.

Ms Mansworth, who has advised on and written about wine since 1994, has spent the past four months getting her venture up and running.

“Wine is my passion. I’ve been working in various roles for years. I used to do tours through Central Otago, but it was more for pleasure.

“I knew in the future I was going to be a wine tour guide – it was always on the cards – so I created my own employment.”

She believed the wine tour market was ripe for the picking in Waitaki.

“With tourism the way it’s going, Oamaru is really cool and there’s a wine region right on our doorstep. I’m in the right location to do it, and everyone loves wine.”

The district’s growing conditions were “unique”, but similar to those found in French wine-growing regions such as Burgundy and Alsace.

“Our flavours are really unique because we have minerality. We have the silts from the river and the schist .. The growing conditions set us apart, pretty much.”

The tour delved into more than just the taste of the district’s wines, Ms Mansworth said.

“I’m really interested in the history and the people behind the label. People like to hear that side. It’s not just about drinking wine. You’re learning all the time.”

She was also working towards resurrecting the Oamaru Wine Club, which has been defunct since the mid-1990s, she said.

The idea was to get a group together and meet once a month in an informal setting to try different wines, discover new wines, find out more about them and meet new people.

She was also keen to invite people in the industry, such as wine-makers, viticulturists, vineyards owners and sale and supply representatives, to speak.

She had had some interest, but needed more to make the plan viable, she said.

“It’s been dripping in. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not going to happen in five minutes. We need to get people to join.”