Everything we learned about wine from Under the Vines
TVNZ’s delightful new comedy-drama proves there’s always something new to learn about wine. And talking pigs.
Contains spoilers for episode one.
If Under the Vines was a wine, it would be sweet and light and easy on the palate. TVNZ’s new homegrown dramedy follows two clueless city slickers who inherit a vineyard in New Zealand, and it will charm you from the first taste. Central Otago has never looked better, all soft light and green hills, and the show is filled with loveable, quirky characters played by a stellar international cast. This is sunshine in a bottle, the type of show you’ll find yourself smiling through, even though you’ve seen this fish-out-of-water set up many times before.
Rebecca Gibney (Packed to the Rafters) and Charles Edwards (The Crown) star as the two strangers brought together when they become the “soul heir” of a New Zealand vineyard. The recently deceased Stanley Oakley pulls the strings from beyond the grave, leaving his estate to his beloved step daughter Daisy (Gibney, a delight) and his nephew Louis (a suitably grumpy Edwards).
Daisy is a financially-challenged Sydney socialite too scared to have a facelift, while disgraced London lawyer Louis is famous for a nude viral video that earned him the nickname “Piccadilly Willy”. Their dreams of inheriting a fortune are dashed when they arrive in New Zealand and discover Stanley’s legacy is a nothing more than a rundown vineyard with no wine and no money. They also discover they loathe each other more than when they met 40 years ago, which bodes well for their new business partnership.
Louis wants to sell up and return to England immediately, but Daisy’s not convinced. Oakley Wines could be the fresh start they both need, a dream come true, and while she and Louis are out of their depth and can’t agree on anything, they’ve nothing left to lose. They’re about to learn a lot about each other and about the wacky Peak View locals, but mostly, they need to work out how to make a bloody good glass of merlot.
Here’s what TVNZ’s charming new show can teach us about the magic of grapes, the mysteries of a wine tree and the power of a talking pig.Every good vineyard needs a sex goat
Things go terribly at Oakley Wines until Daisy bumps into local artist Nic (Carrie Green), wife of fax-loving lawyer Vic (Cohen Holloway) and creator of powerful fertility sculptures. Desperate to please, Daisy spends her last $995 on a “non-binary fertility bovine” that, while horrendous to look at, instantly changes her life. Before the goat, Oakley Wines grapes sucked. After the goat, the grapes win an award. It’s no coincidence. It’s just what sex goats do.‘Wine trees’ is not an official vintner term, apparently
Daisy knows so little about making wine that she refers to the grapes as “wine trees”. Is she wrong? Certainly not, and the sooner this becomes a recognised wine-making term, the better.Grapes need high quality, low quality soil
Every TV series needs a villain, and Under the Vines has two. Neighbouring winemakers Don (John Bach) and Marissa (Sarah Pierse) are quick to make a low offer for Oakley Wines, arguing Stanley’s grapes were no good due to the soil quality. Grapes grow best in low quality soil, apparently, but Oakley Wines is poor quality, low quality soil, not high quality, low quality soil. Got it? Good.Nobody knows more about wine than a talking pig
In what is surely a nod to fellow Central Otago winemaker Sam Neill and his menagerie of farm animals, Don introduces us to Wanda, his talking pet pig. Wanda is Don’s voice of reason and the true star of Under the Vines, and everyone needs a Wanda. Can you imagine what might happen if Wanda got together with the sex goat? Absolute scenes.Wine can make you feel things
Daisy experiences the transformative power of grapes when she first tastes her employee Tippy’s (Trae Te Wiki) award-winning wine. It’s the moment Daisy realises she’s holding her step-father’s hopes and dreams in a glass, and that she needs to stay in Peak View. Or, maybe she’s crying because she remembered how much she paid for that sex goat. It’s hard to know for sure, but much like Under the Vines itself, this could be the start of something great.
Under the Vines screens on Wednesday nights on TVNZ 1 and on TVNZ OnDemand.