For the love of wine!

Wine for the great winemakers is an obsession. It is work driven by the love of creation, The immense satisfaction that is received when things go right is at times overwhelming, and the sorrow when things go wrong just as severe.

“My Dad loves wine.” I would say to myself regularly as a child. I have distinct memories from when I was a small child, walking out the kitchen door, down the staircase at the back of our house and along the path to the shed, where Dad did his ‘thinking’. I would open the door, and there in front of me would be barrels, 5 or 6 hogsheads, full of wine that dad had made from fruit picked from our vineyard in Heathcote. That vineyard is called “the Cab’s”, and he deeply loves that place.

At that time, Dad was a fencing contractor. He also built vineyards in the Yarra Valley and Macedon Ranges. We lived in Hurstbridge on the northern fringes of Melbourne, Victoria. It’s about 100km’s from the “the Cab’s”, which dad had planted in the late 1970’s. He planted it to 5 Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, in order to make a single vineyard wine. The vineyard is big enough to get about 2 – 3 tonnes of grapes, so clearly dad was having a go. In the mid-late 1980’s, the family would work in the vineyard on the weekends, camping in the house built by Dad’s family on the block next door. The kids would sleep on the brick floor next to the open fire, and we’d make toasted sandwiches in the open fire for breakfast. Pal (braised steak and onions out of a tin) and cheese was Dad’s favourite. Then we’d wander down the hill and spend the day “doing stuff” in the vineyard.

Back then we didn’t have a winery, so Dad would to go to work building vineyards and fences really early in the morning, taking his ferments with him, chained to a trailer. This meant he could plunge the cap every 4 hours. He would proudly call it “perambulatory fermentation” to anyone that would as what he was doing…and they did….regularly.

Through his passion and dedication, Dad became very proficient as a self taught winemaker. Trial and error was the name of the game, and not necessarily in that order. Yet Dad’s love of creating something that he and his friends could really enjoy was what drove him to do what he did. He was (and still is) uncompromising in the style he wanted to make, and had boundless energy to create it, traits that everyone who create great things seem to have. I watched all of this unfold as a kid. Little did I know, as a kid, the impact this was having on me.

Somewhere in my subconscious I was being taught by him that deeply loving whatever it is you do in life is the end game, but it’s never ending. Passion drives commitment, and love drives passion. They are all interconnected. It is so important to have something in your life you are truely passionate about. Something you love to do. Something that warms your heart when things go right, and drives your commitment when things don’t. It becomes your life force. Dad taught me all this………through wine!