Wine pioneers celebrate 80th birthday in Tuscan style

Kim and Jeanette Goldwater (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

Happy Birthday, Kim and Jeanette!

“Jeanette and I are planning to have a combined celebration for our 80th birthdays with our closest friends from all around the world at a beautiful Italian villa in Tuscany, in June 2017. I hope that I am not being too optimistic in assuming that we will both make it.”

Kim and Jeanette Goldwater were the pioneering winemakers on Waiheke Island. They developed a large and successful brand, Goldwater Estate, by expanding into Marlborough before ultimately retiring from the wine business. The wine faculty of Auckland University now runs their former Waiheke winery.

Their birthday invitation went out to over 60 family members and friends. They had booked a villa near Siena for four nights and had planned, with infinite care, two birthday dinners at Villa di Geggiano and a long lunch at one of my favourite Tuscan wine producers, Badia a Coltibuono.

It was the best, and certainly the most stylish, birthday bash I have ever attended. The accommodation was at Borgo Scopeto, a beautiful old rural estate with vineyards and olive groves together with a classy restaurant, two swimming pools, and 18th-century garden and a tennis court. The weather behaved brilliantly. Old friendships were cemented and new friendships made. Speeches in praise of the birthday couple were delivered with great sincerity and passion. The food was great and the wine flowed freely.

One of the most memorable moments was during a formal dinner at Villa do Geggiano, a grand old restored villa dating back to the 14th century. A waiter burst into song, startling the guests around him. A second waiter joined him, then a third. This were seriously good. The guests went into a stunned silence. Later we discovered that all three were professional opera singers who had travelled from Milan. They entertained us for the rest of the evening. Fantastic!

Thank you, Kim and Jeanette, for curating the world’s most successful birthday party. I look forward to the 100th.

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