You could say Matt Stafford has been ‘caught red handed’, and that’s because as a chief wine maker his hands can often be stained a rich red hue.
“I have just been checking on some wine,” Matt explains. “I have to lower a stainless tool into the tank and pull it up to check the smell and taste, and make sure the wine is looking okay.”
They’re nimble hands, used to handling the action of a sports field, a wine cellar, a full schedule, but practiced too at balancing work and family. Matt is busy but makes quality time for his wife Hannah, taking time out on days off to enjoy Hawke’s Bay’s active lifestyle.
With three growing boys – Ollie, Benny and Patch – Matt’s life can be a juggling act but after playing years of hockey and cricket his hands can handle it. The enthusiasm Matt has for his work means he’s happy to work hard.
“I just love my job. That keeps me going when it’s harvest time and when I’m away from my family travelling,” he says. “It’s hard leaving them but because I love my job it makes it a little easier and me less grumpy.”
With a strong family unit and a stellar career Matt has a lot to be proud of, but he says his greatest pride is saved for wife Hannah. “She’s positive, ambitious and keeps things running so well at home that I am able to do the job that I do.”
Harvest is the hardest time, when ‘busy’ threatens to become ‘bedlam’. It’s hard yakka with days that start at 5am and go on til nearly midnight on occasion. During those long days Matt’s hands get a hammering, but that’s the real world, one where Matt’s passion overrides any pain.
“In harvest my hands are constantly getting wet with acidic juice and wine. I get cracked hands and they can become really painful,” he says. “My hands can get beaten up but they don’t let me down very often.”