When commercial helicopter pilot Euan decided to combine his trade with his new found passion for growing food, he and his young family landed in Far North Queensland where he took a job crop spraying. After one day on the new job, it was immediately apparent that this sort of practice was actually not about growing the sort of crops he would want anything to do with.
A short stint in a vineyard outside Canberra before this had ‘wet’ his appetite for the art of winemaking, and after leaving Queensland, three years in Margaret River helped Euan complete his study of viticulture and oenology at Curtin University. Having family connections and fond memories of the NSW South Coast, Euon, his wife Carlin and their two young daughters then went in search of somewhere to plant their own roots.
Together Wines found its home at Verona, just south of Cobargo, and plans for the planting of 2500 vines got under way. In keeping with Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic principles, 800mm holes were dug and then left open for almost a year. Once the soil had been exposed to the weather and sunshine for that time, each hole was filled with humus rich soil, enhanced with biodynamic preparations, and in August 2010, the vines were installed into their earthly pots.
Five different varieties were planted including Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Mataro and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. Although advised against Pinot Noir by the ‘experts’, Euan and Carlin have found that these devigoured vines are producing the best quantity and quality fruit, and there are plans afoot to plant even more.
Biodynamics is a regenerative growing technique that uses preps to enable the soil to optimise it’s own performance in managing mineral availability, disease resistance and water holding capacity. These carefully considered and prescribed preparations are sprayed onto the soil and crops as required when problems are identified.
Euan and Carlin have found that they have rarely needed to irrigate their vines, even through the driest months, and close observation and careful trials have enabled them to custom their spraying from season to season. By getting to know their vines, they are learning to support nature’s own unsurpassed ability to know how to thrive.
Of course, once chemical inputs, and high levels of soluble ‘stimulants’ are used, such as with industrial agriculture, nature loses it’s way. Not here. Thoughtful, sustainable practices are the nature of Together Wines.
And the result of these wholesome practices? Well, I have to confess that the writer just had to have a taste – even though it was not long since breakfast – a red and a white, and they were delicious. I’m no buff, but I’d like another glass please…..
As a result of a visit to the Winery by the River Cottage Australia crew in April, Together Wines first blend was born: Paddock Blend Rose. A combination of the Sangiovese, Shiraz and Mataro this blend created a bit of a sensation among the cast and crew, so keep an eye out for it once the Property’s new Winery is completed later in 2016 – you can follow the progress of this exciting development on Facebook.
It’s still going out on a limb to grow things a bit differently in Australia, and certainly in my experience there’s no shortage of people who’ll tell you, “It won’t work.” But the gentle, self assured confidence Euan and Carlin have in the practices at Together Wines is undoubtedly worth bottling.
For more inspiration, see Instagram. Cheers! XO