Both Carline and myself come from the Kalamunda District and our four children on Carline's side are 6th Generation West Australians, arriving in 1829 on the “Caroline”. On my side they are mere 3rd generation West Australians.
We both played a lot of sport in our younger days, mainly football and cricket for me and netball for Carline. Both went to Kalamunda High and I was in the 3rd year of the high school in 1963. The high school celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
We married in 1972 and spent 12 months over east which included New Zealand and Tasmania working our way from Sydney, Brisbane, Albury and Geelong. A fantastic experience and glad we did it before the kids came along. Driving through Victoria gave us ideas on how to build a house for Australian conditions and the house we have is a direct result of the old colonial houses in the Riverina District of Victoria.
We came back and purchased our 5 acre property in late 1976 which was park land cleared which means not much scrub but an even spread of trees. A terrific setting with orchards on our western side and forestry on our eastern boundary. The north western aspect lent perfectly for agriculture and the gravelly loam another great quality.
We worked hard to establish the house and garden because, as you know, planting trees means finding a spot deep enough amongst the rocks. Later post holes for the vine yard meant hiring a rock breaker. A major job was finding water which meant hand digging a well 40 feet deep for a poor result, we did survive from the water from the well for about ten years when I had another well dug, by machine this time, in the bottom corner of the block. This time we hit a good supply enough to irrigate a market garden and orchard plus enough for the house.
In 1998 I decided to establish a Vineyard. After getting advice from Peter Fimmel, the local wine guru of the time, we planted Chardonnay and Semillon, two whites which are well suited to the soil in this area. For the first two years of production I sold the fruit off to a winery in the Swan Valley, then managed to get a contract with Oakover Winery to buy my grapes. After two years I was given the choice of not being able to sell the grapes or go to bottling and opening a cellar door. I took the bottling option and for two years Rob Marshall from Oakover made my wine. Rob made good wine and I won silver and bronze medals with my 05 Chardonnay and 05 Semillon and followed up next year with three more bronze medals.
At the end of 06 we parted company and I was left without a wine maker, but by fate I happened to meet Alon Arble from Bella Ridge Estate. This was a stroke of luck for me as Alon has made terrific wines for me including a fabulous Sparkling, an amazing range of Classics and the best Cabernet/Merlot.
Alon's style of wine making may not appeal to the judges but they are made to appeal to customers, as evidenced by sales. To me judges operate under set guide lines and anything outside the square does not get a look in so I don’t have much faith in judges and more faith in my customer’s opinions.
Sales are still improving year by year as this business is a long term industry which requires hard work, persistence, determination and passion.