EP106 | From Nurse, To Winemaker To Hemp Farmer - serial entrepreneur Kirsty Harkness

Kirsty is a true serial entrepreneur. When I first worked with her 20 years ago she was moving from award-winning nurse to setting up her own photography business. She now runs not only an award winning photo studio (clients have included the Prince of Wales), but also an award winning vineyard in New Zealand. Her latest venture sees her being the first person in the world to be licensed to grow hemp in vineyards.

This interview will leave you inspired and encouraged - as you hear about her wins and mistakes as an entrepreneur.

Here's a little bit more about Kirsty....

Kirsty is the first person to be licensed for growing hemp in vineyards, and has 2 more years of a 4 year research trial ahead of her. The aim: to prove that the hemp doesn’t take nutrients or vigour from the vines, doesn’t negatively affect wine quality, improves soil organic matter and increases beneficial insect life. Her vineyard produces equivalent to 1 million bottles of premium Sauvignon Blanc each year, so her trials are crucial to ensure their current high value crop isn’t negatively affected. 

Coming from the small town of Te Puke originally, Kirsty Harkness started her career as a Kidney Transplant speciality nurse. But being a natural entrepreneur, she has shifted and changed many times since. She launched herself into business in 2005 by founding a successful photography agency TIGERTIGER, followed closely in 2007 by co-founding Mount Base Vineyards, a 68ha vineyard in the beautiful Waihopai Valley where she is a proud grower for Villa Maria, Matua and Babich Wines. 

Over the years since she has grown both businesses, bought and sold a construction business, is now a 54 hectare licensed hemp grower and has recently co-founded Hark & Zander, a natural skin care company using hemp oils.

In her spare time she is on the Board of NZ Hemp Industries, Board of Wine Marlborough, is Chair of the NZ Hemp Media working group, and Women in wine Marlborough for good measure.

Vineyard: www.mountbase.co.nz
Photography: https://www.tigertiger.co.nz

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