The grapes have grown and been turned into wine twice since Charley, Tristan, Emma, Mikey, Sarah and I (Sacha the choreographer) began bringing The Wine Project to life. The grapes have been picked, crushed into juice, fermented and bottled for two vintages since we began and now as we launch into our Circa Theatre season the grapes are growing once again.
It is starting to feel like a few seasons have passed and a few wines have been tasted since we all began creating the intriguing world of The Wine Project. Now finally The Wine Project is matured and ready for Wellington. We began at Urlar Estate, a biodynamic vineyard in the Wairarapa, owned and operated by the divine Davina and Angus Thompson with the help of their gorgeous children. Our first immersive creation period involved camping while dancers learned to drum and musicians learned to dance in the long hours of the summer sunshine as the grapes ripened more each day and The Wine Project characters began to take form.
We thought we’d give you a glimpse of the beginnings of collaboration between the dancers, Emma, Mikey and Sarah and the musicians Tristan and Charley at Urlar Estate (they aren’t nearly so shy with each other now as you’ll see in the show).
From there we undertook research and residencies in other hemispheres, sharing music lists and inspirations over the long winter months as the fermenting of the grape juice subsided and the leaves fell off the vines. The concepts started to deepen and soften as the wine drew closer to being bottled. One vintage had passed and The Wine Project, like all good things, needed a little more time. So we returned to Urlar to see the new buds on familiar vines. We plunged vats of crushed grapes at Rippon Estate in Central Otago, we sought answers from Dionysus, the elusive God of Wine and Theatre and slowly but surely The Wine Project too began to ripen and grow full and rich with colour.
Dancer Emma Coppersmith plunges Pinot Noir Grapes at Rippon Estate in Wanaka
It took us a long time to learn to make wine but it was worth it. First we had to develop a village and then we had to fill it with characters who would tend the vines, pick the grapes, stamp them into juice, ferment the juice and entertain themselves in the long wait before bottling. Now we invite you to join us as we make wine, love and village politics.
The flavours have developed from the soil (made of spice), through the grapes (dug up with innocent joy) into the wine (filled with ritual, joy, passion and blood). Below is a little sip of The Wine Project. While you watch, imagine the air is spiced with cinnamon, star anise and coffee beans, the lightest touch of mint and a burst of sunshine.