Over-50s Find New Life Under the Vines

AMC Networks’ Acorn TV brought the lighthearted New Zealand-set dramedy Under the Vines to the U.S. and Canada yesterday, providing some much-needed joy and comic relief for the holiday season. The series sees Sydney socialite Daisy Munroe and London lawyer Louis Oakley, both in their 50s, jointly inherit the Oakley Winery in southern New Zealand. Thinking they have come into possession of a fantastic vineyard reminiscent of Italy, the two are sorely disappointed to find they now own a dilapidated, failing business.

“The series is about these two fish-out-of-water characters who have to work together to try and make something of the vineyard,” Rebecca Gibney, star and executive producer, says. She describes the show as “a bit like Northern Exposure but with wine.”

It was originally developed to take place in the vineyard region of South Australia, but Gibney wanted to return to her native New Zealand to be with her son during his final year of high school. Creator Erin White and co-producer Michelle Hardy took a tour of the vineyards of Central Otago and discovered it was the perfect setting for the series.

The main takeaway from Under the Vines is that “you can’t live life on the surface,” Gibney says. “Daisy’s life up to this point has been all about labels and eyelash extensions and hair extensions, and everything’s fake.” Throughout the series, Daisy comes to the realization that “life isn’t about that. Life is about commitment and working hard for something, and through that, you meet people that become your family.”

It also offers a spark of hope for those worried about aging and hitting their next decade. “When I was 25, 50 felt like miles away and so old,” notes Gibney. “I’ve hit 50 and beyond and realized that I don’t feel any different to what I did when I was 25. And my mother, she’s 86 now, said, ‘Look, darling, I don’t feel any different to what I did at 35.’” Gibney feels just as vital and vibrant as she was at 25, and she believes the show will “help people of my generation and beyond to show that life does really begin after 40 and 50.”

And the release of the show, which was filmed during the pandemic but makes no mention of it, is serendipitous, Gibney says. “It’s a show where you can pour yourself a glass of wine or soft drink or a cup of tea and, for 45 minutes, just escape into this other world, where it’s sunny and warm and people care about each other.”

Not only is it lighthearted, it’s also funny. Regarding fellow star Charles Edwards (The Crown, Downton Abbey) Gibney says, “I don’t know if anyone’s seen him be this funny. And he’s like old-school Hollywood. There are some scenes where you could swear he’s Cary Grant.”

Gibney asserts, “I’ve been around a long time, and I haven’t felt as excited about a show in such a long time because the timing is perfect for it. We all need a bit of a laugh and to feel good,” and Under the Vines promises to deliver a dose of happiness.