In 1858 a Cottier ancestor, Francois, set sail from Plouézec, France, to Lyttelton, New Zealand, where he laboured as a whaler off the shores of the South Island.
Determined to be a success in his chosen land, Francois became Francis and fervently saved his pennies.
Tired of the brutality of whaling, he bought land in Canterbury. Francis wrote to his siblings and ailing mother in France about his adventures, telling them he wished to replicate some of his homeland by planting a small vineyard. He urged his brother Pierre to leave France, to join him in New Zealand and to bring cuttings from French vines.
Regretfully Pierre wrote back: ‘I am afraid the news is most poor concerning the cuttings. An illness has struck the vines of France. We no longer have grapes and cannot enjoy the little wine they once produced. I am sorry you will not fulfill your dream of having some of home in your new country.’ (12 November 1881).
Three generations later Francis’ great grandson, Peter Francis Cottier, his wife Yvonne, daughter Katherine and sons Sam, Luke, Joe and Nick, have adopted the hardy seaman’s dream.
Three nineteenth century whaling harpoons represented on the Cottier label are a nod to Francis and his adventurous spirit. They are also a reminder that times change – the slaughter of whales 150 years ago lured many young men to New Zealand’s shores. Now, the beauty, gentleness and magnificence of those same species attract the awe and wonder of travellers, adventurers and tourists alike.