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,

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 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,

Monday, February 4, 2013

Changes - Time may change me, but I can't trace time.

"I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test...."

Today marks ten months since I started a new job, in a new industry, in a new area of this amazing country of Australia. Frankly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, for many reasons. As David Bowie sang, Changes............

I've said it a thousand times in recent months, but I do see life with completely different eyes. It is a beautiful thing. Yes, we still have our Liquor Licence, and yes, we still have wine to sell and this year again, grapes to sell, but slowly we are winding up things and gaining time to live again. We gave it our all, and I certainly thought I was moving in the right direction by opening a shop to sell the wines of three small family wineries, but I was wrong. It was a hard but good lesson. The same mistakes will never be made again. I still find it bizarre how the plans I made changed so dramatically, so fast. One thing really does lead to another and change cannot be stopped. I have learnt to embrace change. I used to hate change - I liked to make plans, and stick to them. Maybe that was my problem.

I have spent little time in the Barossa since April 4th 2012 and it is funny how quickly we adapt to new lifestyles. I must admit, the recent temperatures in the desert have taken their toll but with the roster that I am on, the months literally fly by, so the intense summer is fast coming to an end and soon it will be much easier to get through the working days, maybe even without wearing a fly net over my hardhat. If someone had placed a bet with me that I would be driving 450km to work before doing a six to eight hour day, and then working for eleven to twelve hours a day for almost two weeks in the desert, in an industry I had never really considered, I would have lost money. It just goes to show that one never knows..... anything. People are often not what they seem, we are often not what we seem, life is often not what it seems. More often than not, one has to delve deeper and really experience good and bad to have a more accurate understanding of much.

So that is where I am at, and I do appreciate that our customers and other business contacts have understood that I can now only do things in my time, and most importantly, when I feel like it. Coming home is primarily for rest, not to keep working flat out on the wine business. I am not Superwoman anymore and do not wish to be. I work to live, not live to work, these days. But, while things are still up in the air somewhat, I still have some work to do.....

On that note, we still have a lot of wine to sell, despite not making new wines for the past two years, and despite on-selling our (still in barrels) red wines to a fellow winemaker in the Barossa. As our website was hacked a few weeks ago, and very well I must say, I now cannot rely on that to assist me. I am still assessing whether I feel like spending my rare time off of work messing around, rewriting, reformatting and updating something that can be destroyed so easily.

We have had our 2006 and 2007 Shiraz Cabernets, and our 2007, 2008 and 2009 Eden Valley Rieslings out at great prices for most of the past year, and though we have sold a lot still have some left so if you are interested in purchasing any, please email me at

Our 2008 Shiraz Cabernet (Silver Medal at the 2009 Barossa Wine Show) and what is left of our 2010 Eden Valley Riesling (Gold Medal at the 2010 Canberra International Riesling Challenge) is available for $20 per bottle, or $200 a case, plus postage (bank transfer or cash only, no credit cards, sorry).

I have been rather tardy on marketing/promoting our wines in the past year, and perhaps the fact that we are winding down does not help our sales, but our wines are still great value and we are far from being the only winery that has decided to wind down dramatically (most are forced to close, and fast). As I have said in previous blog posts, there are many reasons for us taking this path, and perhaps one day soon I will elaborate on some of them.

For now, I just want to get our stocks down significantly more so that our storage costs are much lower. I am not 100% sure if we will ever make wine again, or not. That will depend on many things, but for me, passion. If my passion does not come back for the industry, then there is no sense in returning to it. My life is too short to put my all into something which does not make me happy a lot of the time. Perhaps after a special experience at the end of this year things will be different. We are going to go right outside of our square and do something that we would never have had the time to do had we made the decision to process our grapes this year and produce yet more wine to watch go into storage, and spend so much more money merely to hope and wait for any kind of return.

In the meantime, I am going to take life a week at a time, explore new opportunities when I can, and continue following my newest passion - taking photographs of the amazing country that I live in. I have never seen so much beauty in my life as I have over the past ten months. There is a lot more to see, and whichever road of work I take, I will continue to appreciate the things in life that many others forget to even notice. I hope you enjoy the photos included with this post. This is what life is about - experiencing beautiful things, not money, not prestige, not possessions. This is what MY new life is about. Living. Australia. I'm right out of the square, and never going back into it, ever again. I want to be in the whole chess board.

For those of you who have supported us in the past, thank you sincerely. For those who continue to support us, even bigger thanks. It really is appreciated. And again, I thank Steven of Kurtz Family Vineyards and Mark of Gumpara Wines for being the fabulous guys that they are, and for making the job of closing Collective Barossa much easier than it could have been had they been men of lesser qualities. Selah.

Cheers for now,