Family, it’s the people you have to love and the ones that will love you without condition in return. You don’t choose your family, you also can’t shake them, so you’re stuck with them whether you like it or not.
I have quite the family. I also have a very special brother. He’s a bit younger than me, about 22 months and 21 days to be exact. Despite him being younger, most people ask if I’m the younger sibling. He’s a tall guy with a broad muscular physique and intense eyes. Tall in stature, he’s always looking sharp and classy and has a mature vocabulary and personality. I, in comparison wear sperrys or blundstones, my mascara is always running, I don’t take myself too seriously and I probably look flustered most times with my half wavy/straight hair that seems to be always pointing in every direction. At first I was surprised whenever anyone asked, “So are you the older or younger sibling” but as we’ve matured I can clearly see why we get asked this question. Wills is my younger mature big brother.
My brother and I have the honour (and stress) of working together in a family business. A farming business no less. We work most days (and nights) and our farm is only closed 4 days a year as per the government’s request. To say it’s busy is quite the understatement. When your livelihood is dependant on Mother Nature and someone else consuming what you directly make, especially a product that people buy based on the maker, brand and what it looks like vs the quality, you can never stop. You simply can’t. With so much competition and different wine choices you have to hustle there is no choice. Add in employees and you really have to keep the engine going 24/7. There’s no stopping this bullet train.
People say we work hard and play hard. But honestly when you have a farm and produce a product and control so many aspects of the value chain there’s very little play hard to be had. The stresses harden you like the hot summer drying the soil. You crack and feel the heat, just like the soil that cracks from the heat of the sun. Add in the many uncontrollable factors we face as farmers, from the bees to the vines and then making, packaging, selling, marketing, serving wine, very few companies control so much of the value chain as much as wineries/farms do. Some call us stupid, but for those who have been bit by the wine bug, it’s a labour of love for us. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Working with family is tough but extremely fulfilling. We are authentic and real, there’s no lying here. We all tell stories, but ours is true, we can just bee and hope others respect and appreciate the work we do to make one of the worlds most glorious beverages, wine.
Onto the Labour of Love.
A few years back, Wills was walking through the vineyard with a new grower and getting a feel for the property and vines. The grower mentioned that this block was planted in 1986 and his ears perked. Being my brother he know this was a special year, my birth year. For years he begged the grower to give him some fruit to no avail. Finally, tired of saying no Im sure, the grower gave Wills just a few rows to play with after Wills explained his final goal for the wine.
Wills intended on making a special wine and he pushed himself to make a wine he’s never made before in honour of me, his sister. From the get go the wine was special as it was planted in the same year I was born. But he had grander plans for it. Being a 26 year old winemaker eager to try new things and just make beautiful wine, Wills made the wine in the style of Krys – raw and unfiltered, quite literally. He wanted the vineyard and grapes to shine, so he let Mother Nature make the wine via wild fermentation, then he did as little as he could to the wine. No filtering, no fining and very little addition of anything. Au natural as I call it. Some call is raw, some natural, I think au natural is the best description.
For a 1 year and a half teams worked on this one barrel, and hid it from me even though I was constantly around tasting, asking questions and buzzing around the winery. They bottled it and waxed sealed it without me knowing either. Most of the 2013 and 2014 winemaking and vineyard crews knew what was happening as this special wine gurgled, fermented, aged and slept silently in the cellar to eventually became one of the most beautiful Chardonnay’s I’ve ever had. Despite it being an au natural wine, it’s still clean and crisp, bright yet complex, sharp yet smooth. It’s got angles and layers and each sip is a bit different than the last. Everyday this wine evolves and adapts to the environment it’s in, just like me.
On Christmas December 2014, I was presented with the 2013 ‘86’d Origin Chardonnay, in a magnum of course, and was told the story of how this wine came to life. All this work and planning (label creation is not as easy as everyone thinks it is) just because I shared the birth year of the vines.
Wine is truly special, in one sip you are able to taste the people, place and passion put into making it. The place is very important but for my brother and I it’s always been about the people making the wine. It’s the people with the dreams, it’s the people who make the decisions on what to do with the grapes, it’s the people who work and tend to the vines and wines all year round. It’s their labour of love that makes wines so special.
To drink a wine that was inspired by me makes drinking this wine get elevated to a whole new sensory level. I feel each sip of this wine differently than any other wine. And that’s what I love about wine, it’s the connection each one of us builds with the wine. Some people connect with the place but for us it’s more than that. It’s the connection of people AND place that creates wine worth drinking.
My brother created a wine worth drinking and Im forever in his debt. But this is family and a labour of love so as surprised as I was, this is what it’s all about people.