Getting to know... Holly, Casey & Hester of Three Fates

Getting to know... Holly, Casey & Hester of Three Fates

Getting to know... A series that aims to shine a light on New Zealand’s outstanding makers, producers, winegrowers and artisans.


The three fates are Holly Girven Russell, Hester Nesbitt and Casey Motley. In another case of old mate COVID causing a change of tack, these three decided to combine their respective wine growing experience, taking on the lease of a Maraekākaho, Hawke's Bay vineyard in 2020. It’s a trio of things we love - talented people going out on their own, alternative grape varieties, and wines that are thoughtful, modern expressions of great New Zealand wine regions.

This week we take a moment to get to know the hard working trio. Now in their second vintage, they managed to find time to talk to us about their wine journey, insight into what's ahead and their go-to spot for a glass in Hawke's Bay. 

1. My local is...

Holly: Vinci's Pizza in Napier is perfection, I'm in there every chance I can get. The pizzas are served by the slice; one for a snack, two if you're hungry and I can never decide whether the mushroom, the chorizo-covered "banger", or the four-cheese is my favourite flavour. There's always good music playing, the fridges rammed with hard-to-find delicious wines and a massive range of craft beers. It doesn't hurt that Casey is an owner there so is always around for a chat! We're lucky to use the place as a home base for throwing parties - we may not have a winery yet but we've always got Vinci's!

2. My defining moment in the world of wine was...

Casey: During my first harvest in Europe after completing my studies. I was working in Pfalz, Germany and a work colleague (now one of my closest friends) told me to keep my Friday evening free. I didn’t know anyone there yet and had nowhere to be so with little more context than that, I agreed to go. She picked me up and we drove for hours in the night through a forest, up a dirt path and ended up at a beautiful stone winery on a hill surrounded by forest and overlooking pockets of village lights below. They were having a dazzling party and welcomed me in like family. On the agenda was an incredible banquet, a goosebump-inducing solo performance by a saxophonist, dancing, laughing, broken German-glish and of course big big bottles of Riesling. It’s here that I realised Riesling was the nectar of the gods, and it has forever changed my personal taste and preferences of wine style since. #jesusdrankriesling

3. My go-to knock off drink is...

Hester: My knock-off drink after a long day during harvest is always a beer. A cold Parrotdog Yellowhammer Hazy usually does the trick. I have also been enjoying Hastings Distillers' L’Opera; with soda water and a slice of orange as an aperitif, or as an alternative to Campari in a Negroni.  

4. Favourite story about a vintage at Three Fates?

Holly: The moment I'll always look back on as a lasting memory for 2021, our debut harvest, will be the day we picked the Arneis. We had such a small crop and only a few rows so didn't call in any troops and just picked it ourselves. After 10 months of seriously hard graft and sleepless nights fretting we'd lose everything; there we were picking perfect ripe bunches. The UE Boom was blasting Lucinda Williams and Haim, but the conversation was almost exclusively the three of us repeating "I can't believe this is finally happening"; it felt magic. Casey of course came laden with snacks, and the picking was significantly quicker than we expected, so we had a morning tea of Cremant, Comte, and baguette before heading over to the winery and getting busy with the basket press.

5. In the mornings you’ll find me...

Hester: Nursing a pot of coffee. This is a serious affair involving a French press, hand grinder, scales and a timer. I’m a big fan of Ozone coffee from New Plymouth and am currently loving their Kercha Sharo from Ethiopia. They have a rotating selection of interesting beans so there’s always something new to try.

6. Go-to spot for a glass of wine in Hawke's Bay...

Hester: When we were first conceiving of the idea of Three Fates, we bonded over a collective love for a wine we had all tried at the Smith & Sheth Oenothèque in Havelock North. It was the Estones PX which, between us, we managed to buy every bottle left in New Zealand. Smith & Sheth always has an interesting list of homegrown and international wines that are reliably on point and we love the option to order by the half-pour and sample the whole menu!

7. New Zealand's best kept secret is...

Casey: The Hawke's Bay Meatball. For those out of towners - you will never understand. But to those who grew up eating the highly unsophisticated local cuisine you will agree that enjoyed rarely, the humble meatball brings you comforts of home you didn’t realise you needed as an adult.

8. There is no better value than...

Casey: DOC campsites. I LOVE DOC. We are so lucky to have this organisation fighting to preserve the glorious nature we have here in New Zealand. They provide us access to some of the most picturesque and stunning locations, at very little cost and often great seclusion. I can’t help but feel how lucky we are when I imagine being in other parts of the world and just how many other people you’d be sharing that moment or space with there.

9. The best BYO in New Zealand is...

Holly: Outside of harvest, I spend most of my time living in Auckland and that's about 50% for love and 50% for access to Dominion Road. Barilla Dumplings is the spot I'm always returning to; she may not be the flashest joint but the food is consistent and the flavours are all power.  You've gotta order the fried green beans which are coated in a tempura-like batter and smothered in an action-packed seasoning full of cumin, chilli, salt, sugar, and undoubtedly msg. Textural whites and light reds are really in their element here with all the soy sauce and chilli oil to bounce off - Three Fates Cabernet Franc is a winner with the brown sauce eggplant!

10. What's in the pipeline for Three Fates?

Team: It’s all go for us! We've just moved our collection of used-barrels, kegs, borrowed-tanks, and our prized 12-year-old puncheon into the corner of a new (to us) cellar. Our range will be expanding a little in the 2022 harvest, with some new fruit coming to us from the warmer alluvial plains giving a little room for experimentation. We loved hosting parties at Vinci's in 2021 and hope to do more of that this year and maybe bring the same spirit to other parts of the country - affordable glass pours with simple and delicious snacks. Keep your eyes peeled for a Three Fates disco near you!