Review: Under the Vines, let’s make wine

Rebecca Gibney in Under the Vines

Under the Vines is a dramedy about a couple of city people who inherit a vineyard in New Zealand. It’s on Acorn TV and is one of their many light, bright, and cheerful offerings. The wonderful Rebecca Gibney stars. There are a couple of spoilers ahead.

Under the Vines throws two strangers together and explores their interactions. Daisy (Rebecca Gibney) is the step-daughter of the deceased vineyard owner. She’s an unattached older woman who likes designer clothes and expensive living. She’s been living off her step-father’s generosity for years. Her best friend is a well-known closeted actor named Griff (Dean O’Gorman).

Charles Edwards and Rebecca Gibney in Under the Vines

Louis (Charles Edwards) is a disbarred London lawyer, the deceased vineyard owner’s nephew. He drinks too much and his marriage is falling apart. He has a 13 year old son (Sam Gardner). His wife and son pay a visit and his son turns out to love it there.

When they learn they share ownership of the vineyard they go to investigate. It’s in bad shape. There’s no money. Louis wants to sell immediately. Daisy argues to improve the place and make it better. Neither knows anything about what they are doing.

Charles Edwards and Rebecca Gibney in Under the Vines

Two people work at the vineyard. Tippy (Trae Te Wiki) has a real gift for making wine. The wines Daisy finds already bottled are either BT (before Tippy) or AT (after Tippy). An AT vintage wins first place at a contest soon after they arrive, which is what convinces Daisy to keep going with the vineyard.

The other employee is Gus (Simon Mead). He often works shirtless and is a real hunk, but somehow Daisy doesn’t notice that he’s gay until Griff comes to visit.

One reason Daisy isn’t paying attention to the shirtless Gus is Ben (Matt Whelan). But, spoiler alert, Ben is the son of the reigning king and queen of wine making in the area: Don (John Bach) and Marissa (Sarah Peirse). They do not welcome competition from Daisy and Louis and their wonderful Tippy.

Other characters in the area add quirks and flavor to the subplots as Louis and Daisy learn to work together, even respect each other, in the effort to revive the vineyard.

Erin White created the series and directed several episodes. Overall the series is cheerful and upbeat with messed-up but likable characters. It’s feel good television. If you give it a watch, let me know what you think of it.

If you love it, good news. The series has been renewed for a second season.

14 thoughts on “Review: Under the Vines, let’s make wine”

  1. I have enjoyed Under the Vines. I am stuck on New Zealand tv shows at this point due to the older Nothing Trivial and the more recent My Life is Murder. The chemistry between the vine makers as well as their growth as people was enjoyable and I’m glad there will be more. Simon Mead played one of the character’s sons in Nothing Trivial, but he was much younger. I recognized him right away!
    I enjoy reading your emails each week. Thanks so much for what you provide for your readers.

    1. Thanks for reading! I do appreciate it. New Zealand has made some wonderful series in the last few years. My Life is Murder is a favorite. Another one I thought was very interesting was “Cousins,” the story of three Māori women.

      1. Thought it was total rubbish. Tired old “plot”, very predictable. From the trailer I was really looking forward to it as something special. Instead they have done the usual local thing and made it slap stick with totally unrealistic stereotypical characters devoid of any sense of reality. It is not even plausible – where have you every seen a vineyard in Queenstown for $1.2mil?
        The average house in NZ costs about that. Total trash. So disappointing for something that looked promising.

  2. christopher a swaby

    enjoyed this series quite a bit. i wasnt expecting something more than what it is supposed to be, a light and airy dramedy. i’d watch Rebecca Gibney in anything. from my perspective, there are few stories told in tv or movies that are completely original or realistic. i mean, at least in America, few people want to watch a show or movie about people living their lives in just the same way as we do. everyone wants to see exciting places and beautiful homes and incredible scenery. this was a fun little series and i will watch series 2 if/when it comes.

  3. This is my first taste of New Zealand shows and I love it. The characters are fun and just bring a warm friendly feel to tv. I watched Monarch of the Glen series and loved that one. This is a bit like that. Thanks.

    1. I have a couple of other you might like from across the pond, if you liked Monarch of the Glen and Under the Vines and you enjoyed those: Last Tango in Halifax, Ackley Bridge, The Syndicate, Offspring, Trying, Maggie Cole, Doc Martin, Outnumbered, Catastrophe (the english not the French) The Larkins (very slow silly start but ends up enjoyable,) Aftertaste (give it a little time too but a delight,) Back, Hamish Macbeth, Love Lies & Records, Mom, Party Tricks (the brit series not US by same title,)The Duchess (slow start, but fun) Raised by Wolves, South Westerleys, Derry Girls, Motherland, Agatha Raisin, In The Club. Those ought to keep you busy!

  4. I guess it all depends on what you’re expecting, or what your psyche needs at the time? For me, this was the perfect show: I didn’t have to think too much, but I did smile a lot, and was sad when I finished the last episode. But, I see that series 2 is out!

    PS Previous comment is correct: this is a hackneyed plot mechanism going all the way back to “Green Acres”, updated more recently with the ensemble antics of “Schitts Creek”, and the two-unrelated-people-inherit-same-property meme is used to death by Hallmark Movies. (None of which I watched!) For that reason, I almost didn’t stick with “Under the Vines” after e1, plus I thought Daisy’s preoccupation with fashion was way over the top–too reminiscent of Ava Gabor in “Green Acres”. But I’m glad I did watch on. Like a good wine, it improved with the passing of time. I hope people will give it a taste.

    1. Funny, exactly what I thought as well, “this is silly” and then fell head over heels for it! If you don’t like episode 1, keep going. It is like Aftertaste, and once you get over the wee bump in the beginning and they get their sea legs, it becomes so fetching and delightful Eagerly looking forward to another season of it. It’s a keeper! You feel like you have been away on vacation after each episode.

  5. I adore this show! The beginning episode was a little slow and I though a little silly, so I almost didn’t continue. So lad I stuck with it! It’s really a delightful series and watching it is like a vacation from everything weighing us all down at present with so much wrong with the world. Truly a sweet, charming much needed escape. Adore each and every one of the zany characters, the plot, the writing and wit. Desperately hope please they renew it and come up with more treats like it!

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