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Goodbye 2023 and buy Nelson products

It’s time to say goodbye to 2023 and for some, including me, the end can’t come soon enough as we look forward to much better and happier 2024.

2023 was a challenging year for many reasons, but the key driver of a lot of the challenges has been the economic conditions the world has been working under. I could talk about the impact Covid has had, especially the economic recovery, but there isn’t much we can do as individuals to change that. Covid caused and economic reset; world-wide government decisions in how to fund the covid crisis at the time are now having an impact as we need to repay money borrowed just to survive during the crisis.

In New Zealand we have seen many businesses that took out small business support loans unable to repay them because trading simply didn’t return to pre-covid levels. There are many reasons for this but one that I think has had a significant impact on small hospitality and retail businesses is that we have all been impacted by increasing day-to-day living costs and increasing interest rates meaning we have less to spend on discretionary things. Also, we all got used to shopping online rather than going to the supermarket, or more importantly, to the smaller retailers in our communities.

And in a nutshell that’s a key reason I have been encouraging you to support our local producers and retailers this year, if we don’t they will disappear.

Someday Somewhere cafe owner Kimberley Eagle at the premises formerly known as Jaks Island cafe in Nelson

I am always amazed at the number of people who are prepared to risk everything and follow their dreams. Be it making a delicious product or even starting a retail or hospitality business there is a lot of optimism blossoming among these people, they aren’t sitting back and saying ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘the time isn’t right’, they are taking the plunge creating something special this region can be proud of and that deserves our support.

Then there are those business owners that have had to dig deep and learn how to navigate the challenging times to make sure their business can weather the economic storm and come out of it stronger. They will be much better businesses when we do emerge from the spending gloom that has descended on us this year.

A fresh batch of Proper Crisps ready to be seasoned and bagged especially for you.

So as the end of the year draws closer let’s celebrate some of the exceptional businesses that call Nelson home. Large businesses like Proper Crisps, Pic’s Peanut Butter, the Talley’s Group, Sealord, King Salmon and Seifried Estate Family Winemakers lead the way in shining an international light on Nelson, a light that spreads to other businesses in their sectors.

It is the excellence of the small producers that propel them into the sphere of national and international significance, the quality of their product adds to the image of this region as a premium producer of many products.

The vineyard garden at Neudorf is the spot to enjoy a glass of wine after a day exploring Moutere

When it comes to wine Neudorf Vineyards have been leading Nelson, and in many ways, New Zealand when it comes to premium wines, wines that are internationally recognised. With the large Seifried Estate Family Winemakers hitting the mass market with award winning wines and Neudorf capturing the boutique producer of outstanding quality, the door to national and international markets has been opened to other Nelson wine producers.

If we consider the primary production sector, then Raine Farms and their double A2 gene Oaklands milk means others can take that beautiful milk and make outstanding products – from paddock to plate in the Nelson Tasman region. Appleby Farms creamy A2 ice cream can be found in supermarket freezers around New Zealand, as can Gelato Roma traditional Italian frozen treats, treats made using as many locally produced products as possible, especially Oakland’s Milk and the berries used in their raspberry and boysenberry gelatos.

Cheese is what The Junction does well, with some sumptuous offering from the likes of Little River Estate

Another boutique industry that uses Oaklands milk is the cheese sector. Little River Estate has turned this local milk into a range of award-winning cheeses, cheeses that regularly find their way into my fridge and should appear in yours too. With the sister brand, Thorvald, producing award-winning sheep milk chesses, and others like Kervella Cheese in Golden Bay and goat milk cheese makers Cranky Goat in the Marlborough Sounds, there is no need to look outside the top of the south for stunningly tasty hand-crafted cheeses.

Then there are the producers of flavour-packed meat products, in particular sausages and pates. With Heck’s making tradition German style products and the Sausage Press making a range of perfectly crafted smoked meats and sausages as well as the ever-popular Doris’ Sausages at the Nelson Market there’s no need to settle for bland, pre-cooked sausages from the supermarket when you want a quality sausage.

Some of the award-winning Anchorage wines including the 2023 Sauvignon Blanc

But there’s so much more to the award-winning food and beverage offerings in this region; Anchorage Wines showed the big boys in Marlborough how to make decent sauvignon blanc when they won the top gong at the New World Wine Awards with a $16 bottle of deliciousness while Chia Sisters, Pete’s Natural Sodas and Atutahi alcohol-free and lower sugar drinks are all packed with bright, refreshing flavours.

And don’t forget the perfectly crafted fresh breads, smoked fish pates and fish portions, olive oils, beers, ciders, black garlic, Skipper’s Choice sauces, chili sauce from tiny artisan producer Tins Thai Chili as well as the nationally recognised restaurants and cafes that turn these beautiful products into stunningly good dishes for you and me to enjoy.

While 2023 has been incredibly challenging it is because we have so many talented, caring, hardworking people making such a huge range of products that gives me hope for the future of food and beverage production in the Nelson Tasman region.

As we head into a much more positive 2024 remember to be kind to each other during difficult times and what ever you do and how ever you intend to celebrate the New Year remember to never drink and drive when you have been celebrating with Nelson made alcoholic beverages at home or in one of the regions beautiful restaurants and cafes.

May your 2024 be kind to you.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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