Friday, February 19, 2010

A little less conversation, a little more action...

The title of this blog entry is one of my favourite motivational songs, and I need some motivation. It's been a huge five weeks; long days (still), short nights, summer, vintage, and in between yet more surprises, some bad but mostly good.

I am exceptionally happy at the way the range of Karra Yerta wines have been received at the Collective Barossa shop, and lots of new friends have been made which is really wonderful and incredibly encouraging. There has been so much bad press regarding the Barossa and the entire Australian wine industry in recent weeks that it is totally refreshing to be in the thick of many levels of the local wine industry at the grass roots level, and feel such positivity.

My customers at the shop are sincere in their appreciation of our "hands-on" approach, as tired as we all are (the four winemakers and myself), and they really do leave the Collective Barossa shop with another perspective of the Barossa (and Australian) wine industry. It is wonderful to be able to share our stories with our customers and also fill them in on our own family histories after they have visited the Museum.

In regards to the media, one positive event was a visit from one of our
favourite wine writers, Andrew Graham, from Sydney. Andrew has reviewed a lot of Karra Yerta's wines over the past few years and always enjoys them which is a terrific feather in our cap seeing as how we were completely unknown when he first discovered us. It is the support of writers like Andrew that keep the little guys plugging away at their dreams when sometimes it all seems too hard. It is easy to give up, and I am sure that this year, many vignerons and winemakers will. It is an incomprehensibly tough market. I'm not sure when things will settle down, on a global scale let alone locally, but with the encouragement that Andrew provides, and many other writers who continually and willingly taste small batch wines, and not only appreciate and like them, but publish these positive reviews, it will get better for those of us that persist. The first photo below is of Steve (Kurtz Family Vineyards) with Andrew and his lovely lady, Caryn.

On the same day of Andrew's visit, I had to attend a photo shoot at Eden Valley for a feature in an upcoming Wine Business Magazine. When you get to stand along side the other producers from our very special, and still relatively unknown region (Eden Valley), you can't help but be impressed with the quality of wines being produced. Hutton Vale, McLean's Farm, Radford, Irvine, Mountadam, Henschke, Fernfield.... so many fine wines, such an incredible array.
The bottom photo shows how the ladies got over the barbed wire fence to get to the actual location (you had to be there but trust me, it was rather funny) and the other one is of Wayne Ahrens and another great Eden Valley identity, Chris Rogers.

Despite the negativity, and stressed look on many faces, I feel a ray of hope for the future of the Australian wine industry and especially for the families that really do put in the hard yards themselves. It's hard work, and can take many years to be rewarded financially, but I have said it once, and I will say it again; the lifestyle is hard but worthwhile. Sometimes one does feel like giving up but after a weekend like this, you are again filled with inspiration to continue with the passion of producing great products from exceptional vineyards in an incredibly special area.

Cheers to the future of Australian wine!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Vintage 2010! There's no time to be Lazy.

February has suddenly arrived; our grapes are under netting, the wine tankers are on the road in every direction, the winemakers have a look of anxiety in their eyes and lack of sleep becomes the norm for most people in the area. Long days, hard work, harsh weather. Welcome to Vintage 2010!

I have been working an average of 14 hour days, 7 days a week, between the newly opened Collective Barossa shop, and at home (running the administration, sales and marketing sectors of Karra Yerta Wines, and trying desperately to still maintain in every way, a house with a husband, two teenage sons, a dog and a large garden currently full of the most delicious organic vegetables and herbs). Life is busy indeed. I never realised until last week just how much I enjoy my own cooking:) It must be my German heritage - the importance of a home-cooked meal after a hard days work is paramount.

As exhausted as I am, I have to say every single bead of sweat and every single hour less of sleep has been worth it, and still, the support and encouragement of people has been simply sensational. I have some of the best friends that anyone could ever want as the help and advice given, consistently, has been priceless. Be it with signage, curtains, artwork, marketing, design, paperwork, woodwork, painting, plastering, plumbing, electrical, in fact, anything and everything, it has been totally overwhelming. Sincere thanks to all who have played a part in Collective Barossa being alive, and indeed, kicking.

Thanks also to the committee members of the Barossa Valley Archives and Historical Trust who have been incredibly grateful since watching their lovely old Museum room be given a total revamp and indeed, a new lease of life. It took us a while but we got there, and the feedback from wine buyers and visitors to the Museum has been terrific. It is certainly becoming a special attraction in the Barossa in its own right and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it. Being based in such a lovely and historical old building is probably the third best work environment I have ever had in my life (after my home in the beautiful Ranges, and Collingrove Homestead) and it certainly does help me to get through the long days.

Our wines, along with those of the other Collective wineries have been exceptionally well received and the feedback from both our own customers and the visitors to the Museum has been incredibly inspiring. Visitors are enjoying being able to meet the winemakers (a little difficult at the moment as we are in the midst of vintage) and knowing the different stories of the families behind the brands, most of which they had never heard of before

The shop itself is looking fabulous and was enhanced even further yesterday with a special visit from my good friend, James Hook (who runs the Lazy Ballerina winery at McLaren Vale). James delivered three of his stunning photos to display in the Collective Barossa shop.
James and I are hoping to work together in the future to promote both the Barossa and the McLaren Vale areas as after all, variety is the spice of life!

The coming weeks will be incredibly busy but no doubt rewarding as more people stumble upon us. It's really exciting and that, along with the high probability of a good crop for 2010, is yet another reason to knuckle down, work hard and in the process, enjoy what we are doing. I've said it many times but being in the wine industry can be really tough, savage in fact, but the lifestyle and people you meet, new friends you make, make it well worthwhile. I look forward to writing the upcoming blog entries about our harvests. No doubt that time will be here sooner than later:)

Finally, here are the latest photos of the shop.