“I am a winegrower and a mother. I grow grapes a little like I try to raise my children - nurturing them along, letting them develop their individual characters and voices and trying to gently restrain their more unruly traits!”
I've worked all my adult life in the wine industry. After studying Wine Production and Marketing at Roseworthy Agricultural College I began work for the noted Melbourne wine and food man, Hermann Schnider. Apart from being exposed to all sorts of new and exciting wines, Hermann taught me not to be too technical when tasting wine, to look for the flavours seen in food and to search out the best food when suggesting wines to customers.
This was followed by a wonderful year working in France for the noted wine man Len Evans.
On returning to Melbourne I started writing a wine column for The Age, ending up Chief Winewriter from 1983 to 1986. It was fascinating to travel around the country talking to winemakers, trying new varieties and seeing the breakthroughs they were making in their vineyards. I also saw first hand the passion, patience and perseverance you need to grow grapes and make wine well.
In 1986 I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to "Explore the Future of the Australian Wine Market in Japan". At that point, all attention in export was being focused on Europe and America but Japan, although harder work initially, was looking exciting. I returned to Australia and took up a position with Brown Brothers, managing their Public Relations and Media Liaison for 10 years.
In that period they launched all sorts of new varieties and began working closely with restaurants and chefs, matching food and wine.
It was at that time that I joined the board of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as their regional Victorian Wine representative, a position I really loved and found very stimulating. I spent 10 years on that board.
During that time my family bought some land in Tabilk, in the Nagambie Lakes subregion of the Goulburn Valley.
“I've come the full circle, evolving into a winegrower and mother!”
Tabilk - A sense of place
Box Grove Vineyard is located in the parish of Tabilk, in central Victoria, 110 kms north-east of Melbourne. Tabilk is just an hour and a half in the car from the city, straight up the Hume Highway, between Seymour and Nagambie.
Vines have been grown in this parish for over 150 years, and in that period the Rhone varieties - shiraz, roussanne, marsanne and viognier - seem to have found their voice here. They revel in the warm sunshine "over the divide" from Melbourne. And in the fact that the region's proximity to the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie tempers the extremes in heat and cold that can plague many inland areas.
French vignerons often talk about the "Terroir", or sense of place, of a wine region. How the region's soils and climate put their stamp on the fruit grown in it and the wines made from that fruit. Tabilk, has belts of deep red soil and others of granite sand over layers of ancient river gravel. Our white wines, roussanne and vermentino, are often described as having a minerality and complexity, a contribution, no doubt, from the granite soils on which they are planted.
Our reds are planted on the region's famed deep red soil. The roots head deep, looking for the layers of ancient river gravel and the cool deep aquifer's that many of our tall river red gums have their feet soaking in. We feel sure that these soils contribute to the deep colour and flavour of our red wines, and the TabilkTerroir.