Jeanette Goldwater – 1936 to 2020

Emails from the heads of great wine growing dynasties and doyens of the wine world were flooding in to the family of Jeanette Goldwater who, with her husband Kim, founded the iconic Goldwater vineyard on the shores of Putiki Bay in the late 1970s and brought the world to their door.

Theirs was one of three Waiheke vineyards that pioneered the island’s modern wine growing industry and, right from their early and spectacular vintages, the couple were sought-after, wined and dined in the best restaurants in Paris and New York and guests in the castles of the Bordeaux region.

Forty years later, the couple’s 80th birthday celebration in 2017 drew more than 60 lifelong friends from round the world to Tuscany where a four-day party included the grand dinner at the 14th century Villa di Geggiano that has been the family home and winery of the Bianchi Bandinelli family since 1527.

Jeanette had been a “truely remarkable woman,” whose dignity, grace and charm had never wavered throughout their life together, Kim Goldwater says of his wife who died this week. “That was my life with her from the moment I met her. Those three things were so clear.”

That clarity had remained vital and incisive, he said, through a surprise diagnosis of leukemia and nearly fatal pneumonia two years ago and right to the end until family in Australia could return.

“She just loved people.  I don’t know if she ever said a bad word about anybody; she always had a kind word and could find some good in everybody,” Kim says.  And while nothing came easy in the life they made, nor could they have had more fun than their life on the Waiheke “sleigh ride”  that began when dolphins ushered their yacht into Putiki Bay, and that never stopped, he says.

For islanders in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jeannette’s harvest lunches were legendary and the grape harvest in their impeccable vineyard included a babel of languages – often French – as the secret of the island’s mythic vineyard microclimates was eagerly sought.

The couple expanded their enterprise exponentially to Marlborough and eventually Hawkes Bay but “the centre of gravity” remained Waiheke, Kim says.

The couple made a unique $4 million gift to the University of Auckland and their iconic vineyard and winemaking operation with its mature vineyards, laboratories, lecture spaces and buildings became the new centre for the University’s Wine Science programme. The couple continued to live on Waiheke.

Jeanette Goldwater died at home with her family on 19 June, 2020. She was to be farewelled at Goldie Estate on Thursday 23 July at 1.30pm. 

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