Everyone knows a “Gunna” right?
As in “I’m gunna do this” and “I’m gunna do that”.
This year, at least one “Gunna” has actually followed through, and is among the field of 3,100 entrants in this year’s Saint Clair Family Estate Vineyard Half Marathon.
We met up with him yesterday to find out what inspired him to travel all the way across the world to take part, and he had such an unusual story we just had to share it with you.
While this is Gunnar’s first trip to New Zealand, it is fair to say this ain’t his first rodeo.
Gunnar, who is a senior sales engineer for ERICO, ran his first 21.1km race in 2009, and last year ran no less than 10 half marathons.
He’s not competitive. Instead he uses these events as an excuse to travel, but would be very happy to beat the two hour mark some time.
He found out about the Vineyard Half through the Saint Clair Family Estate wine club email, which he signed up to many years ago, after our Pioneer Block 3 43 degrees Sauvignon Blanc left a lasting impression with him.
“The taste was simply fantastic, I immediately looked into Saint Clair Family Estate to learn more about their wines,” he says.
A few years later, after a big product conference in Latvia, he was invited back to a French colleague’s hotel for a glass of wine.
When the waiter brought their two glasses of wine over, Gunnar immediately recognised its distinctive aroma.
“Even before tasting it I identified it immediately, and told my friend this is a Sauvignon Blanc from the Saint Clair family in Marlborough, with grapes harvested from the 43 degrees block,” he recalls.
“The waiter’s mouth fell open and he said ‘Mister you are completely correct’ and ran away to get the bottle to show us.”
Needless to say, his French colleague (who fancied himself as something of a wine connoisseur) was stunned, and spread the word about Gunnar’s exceptional palate.
Word got back to Gunnar’s manager who was in a state of disbelief – because Gunnar had never touched a drop of wine before his 50th birthday.
He has schooled himself up on wine by reading lots of books on oenology and visiting many wineries in France, he says.
His manager decided to test Gunnar’s skills at their next work dinner, by asking him to evaluate another wine without seeing the label.
“It was a red wine,” Gunnar remembers. “I made a big show of swirling and sniffing the wine before spontaneously announcing it to be a Syrah.
“Well the waiter’s eyes were nearly popping out of his head, but I have visited so many wineries I know Syrah is predominantly grown in the Rhone Valley – then I was lucky enough to correctly guess which appellation.”
Gunnar has been making the most of his time in Marlborough this week, visiting cellar doors to learn more about the wines from our region – just in case he is ever thrown another Kiwi curve ball.
It was a real pleasure to meet Gunnar and hear about his Saint Clair wine experiences. We wish him all the very best for his Vineyard Half tomorrow, and hope he has a wonderful stay in New Zealand.