July 1, 2021
We need to catch up – it’s been too long between drinks. These letters are supposed to be an ongoing conversation with the wonderful people who’ve shown an interest in our wine, either by coming to our little cellar door and adding their name to our mailing list, or perhaps trying our wine at a restaurant and bothering to find us online. The idea is that we reward this curiosity with regular-ish snippets of interesting news and information about what’s going on in our little microclimate, the odd new wine to try, that sort of thing. But we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.
You see even in our ‘down time’ – when the vines are dormant, the days are short and the pruning can be done around regular coffee breaks because bud burst seems like an age away – life on The Wine Farm never really seems to slow down that much. Except in lockdowns when our little holiday cottage sits empty and the kids’ activities go on hold. But farm work never ends, when the kids are home-schooling the queue for the laptop triples and still the chance to sit down for long enough to pen our thoughts remains elusive.
But here we are, breaking the silence with a little update. Nothing particularly pressing but when we bump into folks we haven’t seen for a while they usually want to know how our little business is weathering the storms in these turbulent times, so let’s start there. In the most recent and literal storm that battered Gippsland and wiped out power across so much of Victoria, we had a handful of candlelit dinners followed by games of canasta with the kids donning head torches and a grand total of one small branch down in the sheep paddock. Not even anywhere near a fence. We were extremely lucky, mostly that day back in summer when we learned that one of our ace crew of pickers was an arborist when at home in France and preferred wielding a chainsaw while waiting for grapes to ripen, rather than binge-watching Netflix like so many of his brethren to date. The lovely Louis and his trusty sidekick Robin clocked every ailing tree and dodgy limb on our land and made short work of them, stacking pile after tetris-like pile of wood for our winter warmth (having made a pact with me that for every tree they felled, I’d plant two in its place). So our trees stood strong, being winter our vines were in dormancy so no damage there, and with our wines safely tucked away in a naturally cool cellar the power outage couldn’t touch us either. Sure we couldn’t shower for a few days but we suffered none of the losses of many of our friends in more vulnerable businesses, for which we are extremely grateful.
As for that other shit-storm. The one that suddenly closes restaurants and bars, spooks customers, stops people travelling overseas and has generally turned our worlds upside down. We’re doing ok on that front too. Thanks to some serious local love from the Melbourne hospitality trade who are rallying around Victorian producers, we’re still selling our wine and finding new patrons despite the shaky economy. Our 2020 vintage crew decided to keep extending their visas rather than head back to pandemic France and returned to us for a second stint in ’21, so our grapes were picked by seasoned hands and right on schedule despite the much-feared backpacker shortage. And with tropical island getaways largely off the cards this winter, Gippsland is getting a lot more interest than usual, with visitor numbers to our neck of the woods climbing like a happy hiker scaling the final steps of Mount Oberon. Our little cottage is hot property these days and the time I now spend each week hanging sheets out to dry and making beds again is another reason for my tardy correspondence with you.
If you haven’t ventured out this way for a while, possibly ever, there are plenty of reasons to change that. Big, still empty beaches beckon, there are walking and bike trails galore, and the ubiquitous green rolling hills dotted with a growing number of talented artisan makers and growers to explore. And the drawcard we’re most excited about of course is the region’s burgeoning wine scene. You might like to read this article about Australia’s hottest new wine region from last weekend’s Fin Review for more on that topic… just try and stay away.
Perhaps time your visit with one of our cellar door open days. We’re open once a month throughout the year (bar August when we attempt to get off the property), and much more often during our peak tasting season of January. You can see all our open dates here.
Our next one just happens to be this Saturday so why not book yourself a tasting session and make a day of it.
If you can’t make the trip out here this weekend, Neil and I are Melbourne-bound on Sunday for Pinot Palooza Unplugged: Gippsland vs Mornington Peninsula where we’ll be slinging wine with our mates (from Gippsland) and at our mates (from the Peninsula) at The Timber Yard, Port Melbourne for your tasting pleasure.
It’ll be so good to re-connect with some of you in real life after this prolonged period of lockdowns, blackouts… lockouts. And for the rest we’ll write again soon with more goings on and maybe even some wine to share. If you’re too thirsty to wait – I promise it won’t be so long this time – there are always some available via our online store, and more to come very soon.
Tell you more about those next time we speak.