The Wine Farmer’s Wife

September 22, 2018

Dear friends

I’m normally a lot more comfortable hiding behind my words but this week I thought it was time I peeped out from behind the curtain to say hello.

So here I am, gracefully hoeing my kale in the dappled sunlight sporting a perfectly creased linen smock hanging just clear of shiny designer gumboots while my denim clad children do wholesome outdoor things without a speck of mud on their freshly laundered white t-shirts. Just like in the glossy country magazines I used to thumb through while waiting for my double shot flat white in the Sydney morning rush…

OK, so reality doesn’t quite match the dream, but life on The Wine Farm suits me from my hand-knitted beanie (thanks Mum) to my steel capped work boots (a 40th birthday present from Neil with which I was and still am thrilled).

I loved my old life – challenging office job with a great team and lots of travel; low-maintenance apartment-living a short walk from whatever style of café, bar or restaurant I was in the mood for, or yoga classes, pools and walking trails when I wasn’t; a few stops on the train to catch a gig, a play or whatever exhibition had caught my attention that week.

But I don’t miss it for a second.

Running for the hills was the best thing I ever did. While Neil had spent most of his adult years living and working in rural areas, making a parcel of land our own with the crazy notion of making a living off it was a huge leap for this born and bred city slicker.

The Wine Farm is a beautiful place to live, and having space to run amok with the kids – feeding lambs, exploring wombat holes, gorging on figs, raspberries or whatever the garden has on offer, visiting Daddy in the vineyard during pruning season to toast marshmallows on his DIY cane burner – is sometimes as amazing as it sounds. But there are other times when I feel like the next person to sigh dreamily and tell me what an amazing lifestyle I have is going to get a punch on the nose.

Without getting the violins out, living off the land is hard. At the whim of the seasons, our busiest times of the year coincide with other families’ summer holidays. We’re working every hour of sunlight to get the vineyard ready for harvest while friends are spending long days at the beach. Or that’s how it seems. There’s no such thing as a weekend when your work is dictated by the next rain or predicted wind. ‘Family time’ is finding a range of activities to keep a one, three and five-year-old occupied while Mummy and Daddy do some labelling, disgorge some sparkling wine (way better than a sprinkler!) or pack the car for a delivery run.

But it’s not as though we didn’t know what we were in for. When we first bought the property and all its beautifully manicured flowerbeds we knew we wouldn’t have time to stop and smell the roses… so we pulled them all out. Then politely dismissed the gardener. Everything we do here is practical. It has to be. At this stage of our lives – nurturing both a new business and a young family – there’s no space on our property for whimsy. Or linen. We do the gardening ourselves when the vineyard lets us and it’s all about putting nutritious food on the table.

I sort of miss the guy in the apartment block nextdoor who serenaded us every night in his own peculiar pitch (if you’re reading this it was Neil who sent you that letter full of suggestions for what to do with your guitar, not me.) But we’ve traded the karaoke king for a curious koala who lumbers over our bedroom ceiling at a much more respectable hour each night.

And the more seasons we tick off in our new home, the less we are overwhelmed by it. We’ve filled the guest rooms with kids, replaced the mower with a small flock of sheep, switched flowerbeds for veggie gardens and make the sort of wine I used only to drink on special occasions. I’m learning new skills as Neil’s occasional cellarhand (when kiddies permit) and have finally found the perfect outlet for the words that have been swirling around my head all my life. Words first conjured up when childhood conversations at the family dinner table sparked an interest in language (thanks Dad), pulled into various forms for a random selection of industries that paid me to put them to work, and only now finding their feet as I corral them once again but finally to talk about something I love. Boots and all.

The more I learn about living on The Wine Farm, the more I want to tell you. I want to share all the interesting things Neil has to tell me after a long day working in the vines with only his thoughts for company. For me these letters are about finding our people; having a conversation with those who not only care about where their food comes from, but think about what they drink, too. Kindred spirits who get what we do and why we do it… The hard way but the only way we know how.



  • The thirsty season

    December 13, 2023

    Current releases and where to get them – from us via email or our online store, try before you buy at one of our summer cellar door days, pick up a bottle or two from one of our wonderful stockists or enjoy one at a fabulous restaurant

  • Growing up

    September 11, 2023

    Our Pinot noir and Chardonnay are confident, gentle and joyful expressions of how these varieties perform in healthy South Gippsland soils, and demonstrate how our wines have come of age.

  • Season’s greetings

    December 26, 2022

    This year we’re all out of kilter with the seasons. Once we’d finished picking and processing the last of the grapes this autumn, we skipped the usual winter rest and immediately turned our attention to the enormous task of preparing our new vineyard for planting this spring. The spring that never came.

  • Field of dreams

    August 17, 2022

    It’s time to fill you in a long-term dream that is slowly becoming a reality. Post by post.

  • Glass half full

    November 27, 2021

    After 45 months aging on lees this is the best our Pét nat has looked and half a glass is definitely not enough.

  • Buzz words

    November 23, 2021

    Local, sustainable, natural… the buzz words are reaching fever pitch. It’s time to hang out the greenwashing.

  • Family first

    October 28, 2021

    We’ve made the difficult decision to pause our cellar door to keep our little ones safe. In the meantime, we’ve just stocked up our online store with a bunch of goodies for you.

  • Connection restored

    July 1, 2021

    Let’s catch up after this prolonged period of lockdowns, blackouts… lockouts.

  • Stop and smell the poo

    February 17, 2021

    We grow and make a product no-one really needs, and use precious resources in the process. So how do we sleep at night?

  • And breathe…

    December 14, 2020

    After 12 months in barrel and a luxurious 18 months in bottle, our 2018 Pinot noir is ready to make its debut, and just in time for the season.

  • Collective good

    July 26, 2020

    There’s an important movement happening in our region that we want you to know about. The Prom Coast Food Collective is supporting ethical family businesses and farming practices that are good for the planet. And we’ve jumped on board.

  • Winter whites

    July 10, 2020

    Hearty winter fare means gutsy cabs or at least a fruit forward pinot, surely?
    I beg to differ.

  • Vintage 2020

    June 30, 2020

    The sixth on our farm and, while no two vintages have been the same, this one was right off the charts. Read our notes from what was a wacky ride in the world of wine.

  • Moving with the times

    May 31, 2020

    Dear friends Wow, we have been overwhelmed by the amazing response to our last email. Thank you so much to everyone who got in touch and put their hand up for some wine. It is reassuring to know that so many of you out there are doing your best in these trying times and actively … Continued

  • A kick up the bum

    March 28, 2020

    March sees us in voluntary self-isolation anyway as we shut out all distractions and focus our energy into harvesting our crop, but with our customers shutting up shop we’re feeling the paradigm shift even in our little oasis

  • A brief history… and wine

    December 13, 2019

    Five years on The Wine Farm and we’re gathering knowledge of the seasons and how the farm responds. We bank this knowledge in a special corner of the cellar. It’s called library stock.

  • Sparkling conversation

    December 1, 2019

    Bubbles aint bubbles. There are so many ways to make wine sparkle and given the one we use is a little left of centre we thought it might be timely to give you a ready reckoner on all things fizz. Plus, get your hands on our 2018 Pétillant naturel.

  • Certifiably insane

    October 12, 2019

    It’s official, we’re now ‘Australian Demeter Biodynamic in conversion’. So what the hell does that mean? Let’s break it down.

  • Picture perfect Pinot

    October 5, 2019

    When the fruit entering your cellar looks like a still life and you’re already painting a mental picture of the final product, you can’t help but wonder if this might be the one. 2017 was a great year for growing Pinot noir in South Gippsland.

  • Planting thoughts

    August 26, 2019

    When we bought The Wine Farm five years ago we inherited eight varieties of grapes in two types of soil and varying states of health. Now they’ve had a chance to show their true potential in this cool climate and with our way of farming, it’s time to make some changes.

  • Hailing a cab

    August 5, 2019

    If your typical cab sav is dark and broody, our Farm Wine Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is bright and light on its feet with gentle tannins, a lovely texture and no sharp edges. Think raspberries not blackcurrants; herbs not tobacco.

    Think uber not black cab.

  • Vintage 2019

    May 10, 2019

    Vintage 2019 was tracking along nicely. Probably the best yet for our short tenure on The Wine Farm. But just as we were sharpening our snips in preparation for picking, three days of 35–40°C stopped us in our tracks and got us all hot under the collar.

  • Let’s talk about the weather

    April 20, 2019

    ‘Cool climate’ is a term that gets used a lot in the wine world but not always appropriately. It’s the weather during ripening that really counts, and the closer to picking the more of an impact it has on the ultimate style of your wine.

  • One door closes

    February 12, 2019

    This morning the last of the nets went over the vines marking the end of the back-breaking vineyard work till harvest starts in about three weeks; the cellar door is now closed until Easter; and the kids’ activities have started up again for the year (including our oldest starting school!). It truly does feel like new beginnings.

  • In the thick of it

    November 18, 2018

    Until now we’ve tackled weeds in the vineyard by slashing under the vines. But when your back hurts just looking at the vineyard at the beginning of the growing season, and then your tractor starts making the same groaning noises as you, it’s time to re-assess the situation.

  • A kiss on both cheeks

    October 18, 2018

    The Wine Farm Pinot gris 2017 – dry, textured and full of flavour it’s a nod to the Italians, a kiss on both cheeks with the French but 100% The Wine Farm.

  • Our pet project

    September 12, 2018

    There’s nowhere to hide with our pét-nat. With no added sugar, zero sulphur, no additions whatsoever, you are literally left with grapes in a bottle. So those grapes had better be good!

  • Contains sulphites

    August 31, 2018

    Turning fruit into wine is fraught with problems. There are hordes of bad bugs and yeasts out there waiting to infiltrate your cellar, get their claws into your juice and turn it into vinegar.

    So how do you stop them? And without creating a host of new problems like headaches, breathing difficulties and worst of all, ho-hum wine…

  • Stop and smell the rosé

    August 19, 2018

    A well made rosé should command as much respect as a decent white wine. Well, nearly. It should be dry, light in colour, smell of light bright berries with maybe a touch of dried herbs and a slight tannin tingle to finish. Delicious.

  • A tale of three farms

    August 11, 2018

    Good wine has great flavour. Great flavour comes from beautiful fruit. And beautiful fruit comes from a healthy farm. Conventional, organic, biodynamic… what is the best way to farm grapes?

  • Judgement day

    August 8, 2018

    With the first of our 2017 vintage ready to release, it’s time to offer up the fruits of our labour so you can decide for yourselves if you think our approach works.

    Introducing The Wine Farm Chardonnay 2017.

  • No place like home

    July 14, 2018

    We’re always talking about the importance of wines being allowed to show ‘place’ – keeping the fruit pure to let it express the soil in which it grew. So given we’re very nearly ready to share the first of our 2017 wines with you, we thought we should tell you a bit about our place first. What’s so special about The Wine Farm?

  • Daddy, you smell like soil

    June 30, 2018

    In Neil’s native South Africa, where he studied and started his career in wine, vineyards are commonly referred to as ‘wine farms’. The focus is on growing grapes and the people who grow them are farmers.

  • Pure ain’t simple

    June 8, 2018

    Here at The Wine Farm we work hard to make pure wine that shows place not process.

    It’s taken us a long time to come up with those few words, and while they might not sound like much to you they mean the world to us.

  • Welcome to The Wine Farm

    May 24, 2018

    We’ve just started a conversation with people who value the same sort of wine as us – wine that is pure; wine that shows place not process – and are interested in how it’s achieved. If you’d like to hear more about the wine we make and how we make it, as well as getting … Continued