With a desire to acquire our own vineyard in which to grow cool-climate grape varieties and produce premium quality wines we were drawn to the high altitude Orange Wine Region, located in the Central West of NSW.
In late 2002 after spending some time searching for a suitable site for growing both white and red varieties we eventually found a small, 4.5 hectare vineyard at appromimately 900 metres that had once been an apple and plum orchard with its own small vineyard that produced Muscat table grapes.
The owner at the time had retained the Muscat vines, removed the orchard and planted Semillon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
The little vineyard was not without its challenges but it also had a lot going for it.
All the vines were producing fruit so we wouldn't have to begin from scratch planting new vines and having to wait three or four years before we could use our own grapes to make wine.
A winery/shed existed with basic facilities that would allow us to establish an on-site winery.
In this building was a minimal cellar door, with a licence which we saw as a valuable asset because it would allow us to sell our wines on site until we were in a position to create a more functional space to showcase and sell the wines we planned to make.
The site was in an enviable position. It was located on the northern slopes of Mt Canobolas,on beautiful basalt soils, in a picturesque fruit growing district with the potential to attract wine lovers and tourists seeking an escape from city life in Sydney and Canberra.
It also had direct main road access and was only 10 km from the heart of Orange.
While the vineyard and "winery" both required a lot of physical work and financial input we thought our combined existing knowledge and skills with further honing as we developed would allow us to embark on our winemaking adventure.
In November 2002, we bought the property which we renamed Dindima, and made the tree change to leafy Orange, arriving from Sydney ready for the 2003 vintage, our first. We were all new to the industry and despite our viticultural and oenology studies still had lots to learn. Having never worked in a vineyard or winery, except as part of our studies, meant we were all on a very steep learning curve when it came to practically applying the theory we had learnt, along with using and maintaining vineyard and winery equipment. We also had a lot to learn about Mother Nature and how fickle she can be.
Ours is very much a team enterprise and we switch betwwen rolesas required. We share the planning and decision making as well as the physical labour both in the vineyard, winery and the cellar door. However, we do have designated roles so James is our winemaker. He trained at Kurri Kurri TAFE in the Hunter and Ryde TAFE in Sydney where he had excellent lecturers/teachers. Lee is our viticulturist and as a result of her studies, also in the TAFE system, provides valuable vineyard, winery and cellar door inputs. Dave covers the vineyard work and is also the on site cellar hand keeping tabs on the wines when James is off site. He regularly reminds us he is the assistant winemaker and reckons he should have his name on the bottle next to James'. He probably should but we don't want him getting too big for his boots.
We now have 14 years and 14 vintages under our belt. Going through the demanding cycle: pruning; spraying; setting foliage wires; hedgeing; shoot thinning; fruit thinning; netting; testing; picking; crushing fruit; pressing off; transfering to barrel; ageing and transferring; testing; cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. Finally bottling our best and making it available to the public, suitably labelled.
As you can see we don't just sit in a deck chair watching it all happen, nevertheless we do enjoy trying to make the best cool-climate wines in Orange. We have our dramas and failings but also a lot of fun and successes along the way.
We hope those who try our wine enjoy the exprience. A good glass of wine is one of life's great pleasures. We aspire to make the best and we are learning all the time.
We have had our share of medals and it is useful for us to compare our wines with others. We learn from this.
James also has the support of his wife Michelle, who also has an excellent palette. Add mother Lee and Dad, Dave and we we think we are a formidable quartette. The wines you buy from us will always be well made and will benefit from cellaring. Our 2005 wines are better now than when they were bottled.
If you want a good aged wine Dindima can deliver. If you are interested in our archival wines let us know. We have a record of them and are avialable for sale.
When we took over the vineyard in 2002 it needed a lot of work and was not a winery, rather a grape-growing operation.
Since the we have improved and developed the operation. We have doubled the floor space of the winery and now have a lovely "wet area' with excellent drainage which means we can work inside in any weather or time of day and wash down all our equipment more readily. Cleanliness is next to godliness in a vineyard. James is ruthless in this regard.
Outside the winery we have transformed this small vineyard: We have re-worked and replaced all the end-posts of the trellising; fully re-trellised our Semillon block vine posts; put up additional folliage wires to hold the growth; cut out excess vines to improve fruit quality; planted a new Chardonnay block where none existed previously; planted an additional Shiraz block with new clones; re-trellised the Muscat block to improve the management of these old 1948 vines; built a new parking lot for visitors to our cellar door and provided out door seating for our tastings; purchased a range of horticultural equipment to more effectively manage the vines, placing nets, hedgeing and spraying vines, etc.
Its all good clean fun which is enhanced by the lovely customers we meet in the cellar door sharing the fruits of our labour. Added to this is the comradery of working alongside Backpackers during picking times. All family members are integral members of the picking squad. It's all hands on deck.
We all will sit together having a few glasses at the end of the day discussing the current state of the world and our various life experiences which provides a refreshing break to the pressure of harvesting a good vintage.
You could do a lot worse than spending the next 14 years making beautiful cool-climate wines on the slopes just beneath Mount Canobolas in Dindima Vineyard.