Documentary 'A Seat at the Table' toasts the shockingly young New Zealand wine industry

In the immortal words of French winery owner Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, "Wine making is really quite a simple business. Only the first 200 years are difficult."

That's the problem posed in documentary A Seat at the Table, a peek inside the New Zealand wine industry which pits our shockingly young vineyards alongside the European big boys. 

Filmmaker David Nash told Newshub it's one of the key stories that kicked off the idea for himself and co-creator Simon Mark-Brown: How have we managed to achieve in 30 or 40 years what France accomplished in 900? 

"Who's done it? What is the sacrifice and what are some of the family stories that have built into that?" Nash reflects. 

"It is an amazing story when you see how far we've come - which is just the classic Kiwi mentality of not wanting to wait two or three hundred years for it to be great.

"We want it right now." 

It's a no to Baroness Philippine's words, then, and yes to a speedy 'number eight wire approach', often complete with stubbies and the farm's 4x4. 

At times, the film presents a hilarious juxtaposition between some classic Kiwi Fred Dagg-esque characters, and the immaculately polished and presented winemakers of Burgundy and Champagne. 

Half of the film's setting in sprawling, sun-soaked European wineries modelled on the Palace of Versailles caused me to ask Nash one suspicious question - did you make this film simply to go to France and drink wine?

"We did say at the start of it all, 'if doesn't work out with the doco, at least we'll have a bloody good holiday'," he laughed.

A confession: I was forced to watch this documentary while white-knuckling my way through Dry July, which is not an experience I would recommend. There's lots of close-up touching of vines and glugging sound effects of chardonnay into a glass - a beverage or two while watching is almost mandatory. 

"If you're into wine, it is fairly gratuitous," Nash acknowledges. 

"What we tried to do is open a door to the industry that you don't really get to see when you're just sort of grabbing a bottle off the shelf at the supermarket or wine shop... to try and delve a bit deeper into those stories and those people that make it happen."

It's a story that took about four years to put together - so how many glasses did Nash down in that time? 

"I was asked this the other day actually. Roughly, if you work it out, it's around about 6000 glasses of wine - which seems like a lot," he laughed. 

"Maybe I'll have to do Dry July next year."

Don't do it David. I wouldn't recommend it.

A Seat at the Table is playing at the 2019 New Zealand International Film Festival.