Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finally, a Ray of Light!



 "Faster than the speeding light she's flying
Trying to remember where it all began
She's got herself a little piece of heaven
Waiting for the time when Earth shall be as one..."


I am not a huge Madonna fan but one of my favourite motivational songs is "Ray of Light".

It really does pump me up! And tonight, I am feeling ever so exhausted on a physical level but pumped mentally knowing (on counting our remaining stock figures, and sending yet more emails with tracking numbers to my amazing customers), that I CAN see that Ray of Light which I have been working so hard toward for the past few years.

Even when I was working at a gold mine, driving in and out almost 450km and working twelve hour days in almost fifty degree celcius temperatures for twelve days straight, I would still try to chip at the wine block on my days off or sometimes even when I was at work (at nights, while living at camp). Sheer dedication and perhaps desperation, which is finally, FINALLY paying off, in every way. I am so happy. My shoulders are not happy (from lugging dozens of wine for many weeks), but I am happy.

During my time at the mine, I paid off one wine business debt (instead of going bankrupt) and now, I can almost sniff that feeling again knowing that soon, the debt of Karra Yerta Wines will also be wiped out. No easy feat in the wine industry whether people want to admit that or not. I am extremely proud of my efforts and most of all, grateful for having the best customers that anyone could want, and also for the support of a few retailers that stay true to their word on making payment (harder to find than what you would think!).

I won't miss being in the wine industry, but I will miss the fabulous people who email me with orders and then words of thanks. Kind people. Good people. People like I used to meet physically when I still had Collective Barossa open. So many incredible life experiences, but at a cost. Many lessons have been learnt and though I am slowly getting over the angst that many caused me, the memories of their actions will stay with me and that is good as I will not make the mistake of giving out my trust or my energy to the wrong people again. Ever. Therefore the entire experience can only be good as I have learnt what NOT to do more than learnt what TO do. It is an interesting life, this wine business.

I still have friends in the business and I sincerely wish them well. Please do support Kurtz Family Vineyards and Gumpara Wines especially. Those guys rock! I know how hard it is to make any profit. I know how hard it is to do as much as possible yourself (who can afford to pay wages?), and I know how tiring it is having to chase people up for money. There sure are easier ways to live but when you are passionate, it somehow seems worth the blood, sweat and tears. I lost my passion. It was a raw and unexpected feeling and at the time, I didn't really understand just how much my life would change. I am so glad it changed.

I can hold my head high and those who spat nasty words at me can hang theirs in shame. I will not leave this business with any bad debt. A good friend once told me that when people say really nasty things that you know are simply not true, that they are speaking about themselves. Well, yes. The ones who were nastiest to me are the ones who owe people the most money and continue to lie. Ironic, yes? Indeed.

I do not mention this out of spite. I mention it because it is part of my story. MY STORY. I gave this industry a good crack and tried so hard to help promote the Barossa and failed. But as a person, I did not fail. The venom from some made me try even harder to succeed at my goal of having a responsible and respectful exit strategy. I have grown more than I thought possible. I see things with a whole new perspective. I believe that the most painful lessons teach us the best lessons. I look forward to selling the last few pallets of our wine, and then moving on to a completely different path.

Mid life Crisis? No! It is a Mid life Awakening. Bring it on! I don't know if I have posted this quote in any of my earlier blog posts but it is worth a repost anyway. From one of my favourite movies and much like the song mentioned earlier, one of my most favourite motivators EVER; from the totally brilliant film, 'Shawshank Redemption' - "Either get busy livin' or get busy dyin'...." I choose the former. Selah.

Cheers for now,
Marie

Friday, January 31, 2014

By Jingo! It's Australia Day - let's run for the hills!


"Now listen,
Oh we're steppin' out.
I'm gonna turn around,
Gonna turn around once and we'll do the Eagle Rock.
Oh momma!
Oh you're rockin' well!
Hmm yeah you do it so well.."

 

Well, January 2014 certainly has proved to be a challenging month in many ways, certainly not helped by the spate of fires throughout the state of South Australia, some of which were far too close to my home in the Barossa Ranges - one at Eden Valley and two fires three days prior to that one, even closer, at Flaxmans Valley. In the thirty years I have lived in this region, I had never seen anything like it, nor felt the fear of a bush/grass fire, so personally. A blood red sky at night did nothing for my fast dwindling sense of safety. Personally, I think there is no overreacting in situations like this - better to get out and be safe than the alternative. Needless to say, a girl needed a bit of a distraction from reading the CFS warnings, stories of loss, and having two evacuations, desperately. 

So when I was reminded via a Facebook event notice that there was an Australia Day long weekend of fun at By Jingo Wines I literally did hop in the car, take a magnificent and relaxing one hour drive south through the winding roads and pulled up to the fabulous shed cellar door in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, in a scream of dust! The look on John Gilbert's face as my Honda screeched into his driveway was priceless. I hadn't seen him for about six years, so a visit was long overdue. He's my kinda wine guy - unique, down to earth, honest and fun!

John's mate, Luke, took charge of the vinyl (yes, vinyl!) on the day and the tunes were fabulous! After a fine platter we were all enjoying the tunes and doing our own Eagle Rock with a glass of By Jingo in hand. The lovely hostess with the mostest, Annick, served all day long with a genuine smile and her equally lovely offsider, Elizabeth, were simply fabulous company and new friendships were made and many laughs had. 

Pop over to the By Jingo website to see what they do, as it will be worthwhile. It's hard to put into words just how different the beat of their drum is to many other smaller wineries - from the amazing location just a few kilometres out of Mt. Barker on the Wistow/Strathalbyn road, to the chooks casually strolling around the lawn, to the amazing vegetable patch, to John and Annick's terrific personalities..... oh, and of course the incredibly different and delicious wines. These guys do things with style, no doubt about it, and that is why even when I am no longer involved with the wine industry, I will still class them as great friends. I admire them. Their passion and dedication to making unique wines is 10/10. Personally, my favourite is their Barossa Shiraz. Just astounding wine! I think it will always be one of my favourites. Check out the photos below and do keep an eye on their website or Twitter or Facebook pages to keep up to date with happenings. 

Cheers for now,  

Marie







Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 - The Best Thing.


Have no fear. There is always a way out.

"I put my spacesuit on
And count back ten to one
The gravitation pull gets stronger
My skin it pulls away
My brains are on a plate
The weightless feeling here is bliss..

This is the best thing that has ever happened to me
These are the colours that I've always wanted to see....."


The Best Thing that has ever happened to me was to NOT achieve my dream of having a successful retail business in the Barossa Valley. A few years ago, I thought I would forever live in the Barossa, in the same house that I had lived for twenty eight years and with the same partner that I married in 1989. In working myself almost to the point of an early grave, and in doing so, seeing much for what it really was and many for who they really were, and the sheer ugliness of it all, it became apparent that changes had to be made.

As I have stated before in earlier posts, when my amazing and much loved bookkeeper advised me to close shop and run, (and declare bankruptcy for my shop debt) I chose to put it out there that I needed a job in a mine to earn fast money to pay off my debts and take the weight off of my over-laden and oh so tired shoulders. Thirteen months later (and not forgetting that my new job in a mine began only a month after the doors of Collective Barossa closed for the final time), I was debt free and had found something in me that I never thought existed - Freedom of Spirit and Inner Faith. Many had left their scars on me when I left the Barossa. I thank them, again. Those scars have helped to make me what I am today, and though things are still tough for numerous reasons, the light is truly at the end of the tunnel. My new life, my new vision, my new passion has made me a better person. I am extremely grateful. Those who put the knives so deeply in my back are still treading the same paths as they were two years ago. I pity them, but I cannot help them. I can only help myself and those who are worthy of my help.

So, in stating all of the above, I am, in my usual style, announcing that my part in the running of Karra Yerta Wines is coming to a very swift end. I will have more to say on this in a future post. Perhaps not. Many know the stories behind much, and really, it probably doesn't matter. What matters is that my customers and friends (including many still in the wine industry) know that I won't be in this game for much longer. It's time to spread my wings and journey into yet more new adventures.

Hence, I am still trying to sell as much of our older stock (we have not made any wine since the 2010 vintage and trust me, our wines have only improved with age!) and clear as much remaining debt of Karra Yerta Wines as possible before completely moving on. If I can clear the debt of Collective Barossa, I can certainly clear the debt of Karra Yerta Wines and it is well within my reach. I have to go to the storage facility at Stockwell to get an accurate stocktake as there are many bits and pieces left, but primarily I have 2009 Eden Valley Riesling and 2008 Shiraz Cabernet for sale for $130 a dozen with free delivery in Australia. Both of these wines have won medals - the riesling a bronze at the Canberra International Riesling Challenge and the shiraz cabernet a silver medal at the Barossa Wine Show. The reviews are on this blog page if you want to find them. I have let the Karra Yerta Wines website lapse as I see no point in more outgoing costs so this blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages are the only places left to find information on us, other than various reviews etc on other wine review websites.

So for now, that's it. If you would like an order form, please email me at karrayertawines@gmail.com and though I am busy doing orders from Christmas/New Year, I will reply as soon as possible. Thanks to all who have been so positive and helpful over the past years/months. I know that you know who you are. Good things happen to good people and though sometimes it is hard to see it, out of every bad thing comes something good. Selah.

Cheers for now,
Marie

PS If you want to see a visual record of my personal growth and new passion, have a look at my photography page here. The entire world is my new home. I look forward to sharing more views of it with you in the coming years.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Have you ever seen the rain?


"Someone told me long ago 

There's a calm before the storm,

I know 

It's been comin for some time. 

When it's over, so they say, 

It'll rain a sunny day,

I know 

Shinin' down like water..."

I have just returned from a 3500 km drive (in a Honda Civic, nonetheless - which was not by choice as much as necessity!) through outback New South Wales and outback Queensland. That folks, is a feat in itself, particularly on the notoriously challenging Noccundra to Tibooburra route. Road maps simply do not show the poor condition of roads in outback Queensland. I guess one good thing about the mining industry being established in the outback is that it does mean that some of the roads get widened and/or sealed which is a great relief if you see an oncoming fifty-three metre road train coming your way!

Anyway, driving that distance alone gives one a substantial amount of time to ponder much... As I drove through the most harshest areas, and after speaking to the lovely Annabel Tully (whose paintings of the Channel Country can be found here) I realised just how extreme the Australian weather can be. Channel Country is a sight to behold. I can only imagine how beautiful it is after some of the massive rains that Queensland gets.  Some towns like Cunnumulla haven't had a decent rain for two years (so the local lady cleaning my hotel room, told me). The people of the outback are tough, make no mistake about it. They get little help from government and yet still manage to keep on battling. These are REAL battles. Battles of survival; physically, mentally, emotionally AND monetarily. It makes me think that the battles of being in the wine industry are relatively minor. Really. I think that the word resilience was made for our outback dwellers.

I asked many of the bushies, "Have you ever seen the rain?" On that note, as a fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival, there is something very surreal about driving along stretches of many hundreds of kilometre long roads alone, listening to the ballads of CCR. Good thinking music, indeed.

Businesses in rural (really rural - not the Barossa which I deem as urban) Australia are struggling so much more than the wineries. I pop into local pubs to speak to people, including the owners. I pay attention to how many people are in the bars. It's a sign if you walk into a pub and there is no-one there, or if they are closed by 7pm. If there is one thing about travelling through the outback, it is the necessity of stopping for a lone cold beer and a break from travelling, just to revive yourself for the next three hundred kilometres that you are doing before you stop for the night. Especially if you are travelling alone, as the constant watching of road-trains, roadkill, wildlife and feral animals really is rather exhausting. I was averaging around five hundred kilometres a day, in thirty five degree heat. Takes it out of you. Thank God for Coopers Ale and a nice shady spot to sit under the verandah of a country pub for an hour or so!

Now, all of you may be wondering what this has to do with wine. Well, lots. It has shown me what is really important in this amazing country we live in, and a lot may bite me for it and argue the point, but you won't change my opinion. As someone winding down our wine business, I know how much of a struggle it is. I think it will get worse with imports from South America and other parts of the world. Really, let's face it, yes wine is the livelihood of many Australian families, I do not dispute that BUT what I care about more is the state of our farming industry. Wine is wonderful but we need food more! I would prefer to drink overseas produced wine than eat overseas produced meat, or drink overseas produced milk!

Australians really need to support Australian businesses more now than ever. Economically it is a hard time for most people but if you could have seen what I saw, and spoken to the people that I spoke to, and driven along the roads that I did, you too would understand my point.  We need to support our farmers. Yes, do buy wine from small producers but also remember where your beef or milk comes from and cherish and support that. We only appreciate things when we have lost them - that is human nature.

I have had so many amazing experiences since life has led me out of the Barossa and with each one, I grow more and more, and see everything so differently. If I was a square peg in a round hole a few years ago, now I am a hexagonal peg in a pentagram. I am so grateful that things worked out (or didn't work out, perhaps) the way that they have. If I had not had to change my life, and do what I have needed to do I would still be sitting in my cottage living a life which really wasn't real. I was in a little bubble. I feel so much more in touch with life, now.

I have so many more miles to travel, so many more people to meet, and so many more photographs to take and experiences to document. I do live in the lucky country and I want you all to realise, that if you are Australian, you do too. Get out of the square. Someone said, go to a different place every year. I do that every month. It's as good for the soul as watching a sunset or a sunrise in the outback. SOME of the best things in life are free but often we don't realise it. Selah.

Cheers for now,
Marie



Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's the I Ching Thing.

 

"Facing the morning, wearing her shadow

She throws her dice and I-Ching

Success in Japan, a rescuing man

Knows she won't change anything..."


Ah, the changes. The I Ching.  No Secrets. "She keeps no secrets from you...."

I've been transparent about my ups and downs of my time in the wine industry. Some people admire that, others cringe. It doesn't matter. It is what it is. It IS my story. Trust me, there is a whole lot more I could say but for now still, it isn't going to happen. 

What I will say again, is that I want to be out of this industry and free to pursue other wonderful adventures like I have in the past thirteen months of the best job I have ever had, with some of the best people I have had the good fortune to meet. I have now finished that job but the bush bug has bitten me and I have every intention of being out working in excessive heat, in dust storms, in the red sand, sooner than later. I love it. I love the challenge. I love the camaraderie that grows from being in the middle of nowhere with people that you work with, live with, eat with, laugh with, drink with, depend on in so many ways. 

It's a whole new world. It's a dangerous world but that makes it exciting, and I find that I can handle fear better than ever before in my life. What progress! In my first weeks at my new job, I often walked around wondering how I was going to manage to learn all the things I needed to learn, and to be safe while doing so but somehow I managed. I faced the fears, trusted those who were teaching me, and took it one day at a time. Frankly, overcoming so many of my fears, and the incredible life changes which I went through in order to have this job, was most empowering. I am forever grateful for the way fate landed me in a desert for over a year, despite it being the hottest summer in Australia's history. And yes folks, that was tough. But I made it. We all made it. What can I say? My former co-workers rock. 

You can probably tell that I am rather inspired by much. What I am really no longer inspired by is making and selling wine. I still like to drink wine now that I am back in temperatures below forty degrees celcius. I'm sure the Coopers Vintage Ale profits were much higher over summer than usual, however!  Yes, my name is Marie and I am STILL a grenache addict. Phew! Just as well with the lovely array of bottles I have stashed throughout my house! 

But one can love something without being involved with it too much. I have spent the past two years (at least) winding down wine businesses and still I have stock to sell. Admittedly, I haven't pushed it that much in the past six months because summer in the desert is about survival, not wine sales. Now that I am home (well, one of my homes... I have turned into quite the gypsy!), it is time to get back on the wine wagon and clear the stock for once and for all. This chapter is almost finished. It's a good feeling. Life is far too short to not be happy in what you are doing.

So, yes, over coming months you will see that I am selling our wines at crazy low prices. This is not an indication of the quality, it is merely time to let go and move on. Our wines have been stored in a proper storage facility in the Barossa Valley and most of them will be dispatched from there to save me lugging cases from Stockwell to the Post Office in Tanunda. The wines have aged wonderfully and I am confident that buyers will thoroughly enjoy them - and not only for the value aspect!

It is really lovely to continue to get amazing emails and messages from past customers who are saddened to see Karra Yerta take the path that we are, and yet, these same messages wish me all the best and understand why this dream has to end, and another one continue. It's fabulous. Our customers have always been fantastic, and I thank you all sincerely for being so understanding and supportive. 

On a final note, I think it is highly unlikely that I will get our website back up to scratch. It is simply too much work for too much risk of it being hacked again. We are still being spammed in the same manner that we were at the time of the hacking so confidence is low.  For now, please email me with any enquiries/orders to karrayertawines@gmail.com and I can let you know what stock is left and for what price. Again, thanks for past support and though I will not shut this blog down, the posts will continue to be sporadic. For more regular contact, I suggest joining our Facebook page or you can follow us on Twitter.

Cheers for now,
Marie