How Parish Lane Wines came into existence. Our dreams of escaping the heat and bustle of Perth and enjoying a new lifestyle.
If it hadn’t been for a recalcitrant distilling machine with a twisted mind of its own Parish Lane Wines may never have existed. Instead, there may have been a charming, wonderfully scented, but unquaffable, lavender enterprise. Fortunately for those of us who like a drop of the good stuff, the danger of temperamental machinery, coupled with the mounting chiropractic bills associated with tending a knee-high crop, meant that the founders of Parish Lane Wines had to look else where to make their land pay.
The land had been bought back in the early 1990’s as part of a dream to escape the heat and bustle of city life in Perth and embrace a life less complicated. While the Margaret River region had looked tempting, nothing they saw over a two year search was quite right. Moving their explorations further south Richard and Julie viewed several plots, but it wasn’t until they stepped out of the car onto a quirky triangle of land with views to Mount Manypeaks that they both knew they had found their new home.
However, fate intervened in the form of the second - or probably fourth - hand distilling machine. After spending a holiday harvesting lavender, bagging and drying it, they then had to face up to the ancient machine. With the shriek of tortured metal under pressure and shards of steam escaping at eye level they saw with awful clarity that distillation wasn’t going to work.
Deflated, with their plans to escape the city looking less likely, they consoled themselves with a slap up meal with friends. The friends had a similar acreage, they had planted vines and sold the grape harvest to a local winery. Why didn’t Richard and Julie do the same? More research followed, costings, time scales, soil and site analysis, before they decided it might work. It should be added here that had they actually worked out to the last cent what it would cost they would never have started, but they do say ignorance is bliss… Eventually in the last year of the old century the first rows were planted. Thirty one rows in all. By hand. Just to prove how amiable Richard and Julie are – it was all done with the help of friends – whose only reward for their labours were meals and drinks afterwards!
Three years later the first crops were ready to be sold and Richard and Julie had made a permanent move down to Albany. Things progressed. They planted eighteen rows of Merlot – again by hand. And if 2005 hadn’t been such a fantastic year for grape growers that’s where the story would still be. In that year growing conditions were excellent. Bumper harvests of superb quality. Great news for the wineries. Not so good for the Parishes. With such pickings available the winery that normally bought their grapes had to turn crops away – they simply didn’t need any more. Faced with a good drop of chardonnay, and the first viable merlot, Richard and Julie decided not to waste the time and effort that had been put into the grapes but to make their own wine. Their harvest was delivered to a local winery and into the hands of the excellent Mike Garland. Richard (with a bit of help from Julie) now had a few months for a crash course in buying bottles, labels, stoppers and all things that are involved on the other side of the grape industry.
We hand pick our fruit
Every vintage the same group of friends gather to lend a hand and somehow the picking becomes more of a day out than a chore. Gossip is shared across rows and the fitter members lug baskets of grapes to the ute. Breaks are frequent, whether for tea, lunch or just to find out why Richard was laughing so much. At the end of the day a trailer sits loaded with huge boxes stuffed with the promise of a new wine. This is the time to sit back in the last glow of the evening sun, to drink the previous vintage and imagine the possibilities before you. We’d like to think that the joy Richard and Julie feel in living their dream sneaks into the bottle, but you’d need to drink some before you can decide….
What People Say
The 2009 Cabernet Merlot travelled well and stood the test of time....delicious
Donna Teresa Cook