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Vintage Ventures: A New Chapter in Manawatū


The wine master of Hokowhitu Village, Duncan Win, has decided it's time to hang up his bottle opener at The Village Wine Trader. But never fear, as Vanessa Orringe steps in, ready to uncork a new chapter - with world class wines and spirits!
As the caretaker of what has become such an iconic part of this close-knit community, we sat down with Vanessa to talk about her journey so far, the challenges that lie ahead, and the people that are coming along for the ride.

Originally from Rotorua, Vanessa, like so many others, made the move to Manawatū to study at Massey University as a teenager and has basically stayed put ever since. With a Degree in English and a Certificate of Science from Massey, as well as a Diploma in Interior Design from UCOL under her belt, Vanessa’s cap is well feathered. It was this varied array of interests and skill sets that let Vanessa ‘fall’ rather effortlessly into an industry she never imagined, hospitality, by taking on the role of Operations Manager at the former Awapuni Hotel. It was a job she tells us she expected to have for six months but was still there six years later, overseeing everything from whoa to go, largely thanks to her knack for customer service, ability to solve problems and uncanny eye for recognising great produce. And it’s these skills that have now led her to the mecca of wine in Palmerston North city; the purchase of The Village Wine Trader, now known as Village Wines.

It’s a leap that surprised absolutely no one that knows her, as Vanessa has spent the past 12 years honing her skills at one of only a handful of boutique Liquorlands in the country. Thanks to numerous national and international trips, expos, and time spent with industry experts from across the globe, Vanessa has refined her palette and progressed quickly to be well placed to provide expert advice to anyone that seeks it. In fact, as fate would have it, it was Vanessa's expertise in whiskey that led to her meeting her partner, David Key.

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The Perfect Blend

Originally from Yarrow Valley Australia, David incidentally followed Vanessa around the North Island after making the jump across the ditch, with various moves to Rotorua, Palmerston North, Foxton Beach and eventually back home to rural Manawatū where they live now.

After circumnavigating each other's lives - unknowingly of course - it seemed the stars aligned when David was given a Liquorland gift card. After visiting the store on Pioneer Highway, he was told to go see Vanessa in the Albert  for some Street storesolid whiskey chat. It would take two more wine purchases before they would come face to face (what’s that saying, third time’s a charm?), and the rest is history.

Between them, Vanessa and David now have four kids, two Maine Coons, one dog, a bunch of chickens and a casual 550 cows. Yes, you read that right! Between the time Vanessa and Duncan shook hands over a coffee securing the future of Village Wines, David took on a dairy farm and the couple became contract milkers on what is aptly known as The Yarrarua.

Although the change in direction did make Vanessa and David pause for a second, they knew they would always take on both. They have always pursued a life of ‘why not?’ choosing to look at the glass half full (of exceptional wine of course). Plus, the bonus of living in Manawatū means that they can comfortably do both without the strain of a massive commute into the city.

Going from poop-covered gumboots before breakfast, to heels and a red lippy for the store is a transition that Vanessa has always found easy, and even relished. Growing up in rural Rotorua, her parents owned their own home-kill business, so she is very used to hard work and clearly never shies away from getting her hands dirty. It’s a work ethic instilled in her by two very supportive parents that always encouraged Vanessa to continue learning and pursuing the next step in her career.

Learning on the job

Although she brings with her decades of knowledge, Vanessa will be the first to admit that she still has a lot of learning to do. But it is this continuous development and evolution of the industry that keeps her passion bubbling. Or as she puts it “There is always more to learn, so you quickly understand that the more you know, the less you know.”

Former owner Duncan has been gracious in supporting Vanessa throughout the transition, filling gaps where required and offering words of wisdom along the way, which is something she hasn’t taken for granted insisting she has every intention of honouring what Duncan has done for the business up until now. But while Vanessa has assured us that clients won’t see any tipping of the apple cart, there might be a few changes to the wagon wheels, with Vanessa keen to put her own touch on the space and design. Longtime Village Wine Trader team member Matt is also coming along for the ride and will still be a familiar face for clients in the store as well as with deliveries across the city.

Vanessa is already enjoying meeting the locals in the store and can’t wait to grow that customer base through events and local collabs. In fact, the thing she tells us she is looking forward to most is chatting with the locals!

“I am excited to be part of the Village Wines journey and to embed myself into the community that has been built here, so I can’t wait to hear from our customers what they want to see in the future. New ideas? Suggestions? Opportunities to collaborate? I’m all ears!”

Visit Vanessa and Matt at Village Wines in the heart of the Howkowhitu Village on Albert Street, open 10am to 7pm Monday through Saturday and 2pm to 6pm on Sunday’s. Or follow their journey on Facebook.

Prefer to shop online? Keep your eyes peeled for a new and improved website coming soon: Village Wine Trader – Palmerston North Wine Experts – Hokowhitu Village

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