Mum had a knack for making everything seem fun. She had a thermos of tea and she made lemon slice with very thick icing, a reward for picking up sticks and working in the vineyard.
Mum and dad were always working on the farm or in the vineyard, and it was a struggle in the sense of no one really knew – they were learning so much along the way, experimenting. But everybody worked together as a community, helping each other, and I remember that sense of excitement whenever anyone on an award.
My sister Shelley set up the first food bar serving Cornish pasties and toasted sandwiches and the infamous vineyard platter with crusty bread. Back then all these poor people were travelling and tasting wine but there weren’t many places offering food. Shelley came up with the name crusty bread because it was just recycled, toasted bread from yesterday.
All of us did our time working at cellar door and promoting in Perth – including Ariane, Digby, Stewart and Rick. We planted vines, worked in the vineyard and at vintage. Digby helped build the winery and painted the whole thing, and there’s a picture of him with glasses covered in white paint.
Eventually I went to Adelaide to study music, and dad enrolled me in the wine course. I returned with a science degree and a graduate wine diploma from Roseworthy in 1986.
After working vintages in California and Burgundy I said to mum, “I need to take over as full winemaker otherwise I want to go somewhere else”. So, she agreed, but then there was that jostling between two very strong-willed people.
Mum would say “Fine, no worries, dear.” Once, I went away promoting, and I rang up to find out what was happening with the Riesling fruit, as we’d agreed not to make a Riesling, and she said, “Oh dear, we bottled it last week.”
There was also the time I was supposed to be sampling the grapes, but in walks mum beautifully dressed with a scarf, matching belt and shoes, exclaiming “Oh, I tasted the grapes. They taste yummy!” I loved driving around the vineyard every evening with mum, checking all the grapes. The vintage after she passed away I just had this sense of her being there saying, “Yummy, dear!”
Fortunately, mum and I both believed in making the best quality wine, so regardless of our differences, we always agreed within that.