Country Style - - OUR LIFE IN THE COUNTRY -

I went to kin­der­garten in Ta­nunda and then my folks moved out of the Barossa for a few years be­fore re­turn­ing. I guess go­ing through high school in the mid-1980s when the gov­ern­ment was pay­ing to pull vines out meant I didn’t want to get a job in a vine­yard or win­ery, and that’s why I moved away from the Barossa after I fin­ished school. I got an ap­pren­tice­ship as a me­chanic with Tel­stra — Tele­com at the time — and I worked a cou­ple of years across the Nullar­bor with the op­tic fi­bre project, which was in­ter­est­ing. Even­tu­ally I moved back to the Barossa and in 1992 I started an ap­pren­tice­ship at Or­lando Wines. I pro­gressed through a cou­ple of TAFE cour­ses, then worked for a bot­tling com­pany for a year. The pas­sion slowly grew, and I be­gan mak­ing wine in my back shed. I ended up tak­ing a bot­tle of ‘Shed Red’, as I called it, up to Mar­garet and Peter Lehmann’s [the leg­endary late wine­maker, who was piv­otal in shap­ing the Barossa’s wine in­dus­try into a global player] for din­ner one night. Peter said: “If you can make wine like this ev­ery year you’ll be do­ing well.” So that was en­cour­ag­ing! In 1996 at Lang­meil I pur­sued the hands-on as­pect of wine­mak­ing. I started a wine­mak­ing de­gree by cor­re­spon­dence, but the res­i­den­tial school was in the mid­dle of vin­tage so I ended up not com­plet­ing it. I was good at chem­istry, though, and talk­ing to other wine­mak­ers helped put it all into place. From 1999 on I was look­ing after all the Lang­meil wine. The Free­dom Shi­raz is one of the eas­ier wines to make, but you’re in trou­ble if you stuff it up. The pres­sure’s there; it’s ex­pected to be a mid- to high-nineties score wine. I’ve got an old house in Lang­meil Road where I live with my wife Natalie and our girls, Macken­zie, who is nine, and Brid­get, seven. Our fam­ily busi­ness works well. James and I have al­ways got­ten along okay — or more than okay: we stopped fight­ing each other years ago! We played foot­ball to­gether and, athough we were pretty com­pet­i­tive, we usu­ally played on the same team so it wasn’t too bad. Like ev­ery fam­ily we have our mo­ments, but it’s usu­ally pretty smooth. Peo­ple like Robert O’cal­laghan, Bob Mclean and Peter Lehmann re­ally brought the Barossa back and the im­por­tance of the old vine­yards for­ward. Set­tlers planted a lot of the old vine­yards and they re­ally have some­thing ex­tra about them. The old vines need a lot of work, but they are worth­while in the end.

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