Garden and Field
QUIET CONFIDENCE AND DEDICATED PASSION About Mel & Pete Melissa and Peter Raymond both grew up in rural Australia. Mel in a small town west of Rockhampton in country Queensland and later the Darling Downs; Pete from the Snowy Mountain towns of Cooma, Khancoban and Talbingo in New South Wales. They met in Brisbane in 1991, Mel persuing a modelling career supported by fashion retail and Pete preparing for a career in first grade Rugby. But both knew they weren’t suited to city life. A visit to Queensland’s Stanthorpe region in the mid 1990s bolstered their love for wine country, stirred their passions, and inspired Pete to enrol at Charles Sturt University, where he completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Viticulture. With lofty aspirations, Mel and Pete knew if they wanted to get serious about the wine industry, they needed to be in the thick of it. They wanted wine to become their life, and they wanted to grow the best Shiraz in the world. The obvious choice was a move to the Barossa. Throwing themselves into work as pickers, pruners and vine trainers, Mel and Pete were grateful for the vineyard experience and weren’t afraid of long, hard work. Days that started before sunrise were often spent in rain, mud and fog, but at other times in glorious sunshine, taking in magnificent views over Barossa vineyards. Gathering a wealth of viticultural knowledge, Pete worked in vineyard management roles in the Barossa and Riverland. But Mel and Pete soon upped sticks again, moving to Victoria’s high country in 2003, where Pete took a position with industry icon Brown Brothers. In 2007, they moved back to South Australia with their two beautiful young daughters, acknowledging it was time to reconnect with their Barossa dream. After frantically searching for the ideal property, a turning point came when Mel saw an ad in an Adelaide newspaper for a small, derelict farm on Gnadenberg Road in the northern Barossa. Other than a distant recollection of the road’s name on bottles of special old reds his Dad would share with him, Pete hadn’t fully grasped the magnitude of the farm’s location. But he somehow knew they had found what they were looking for. Driving up to the farm for the first time, Mel and Pete realised they were well off the beaten track. Winding dirt roads, big gums and not much of anything else. There was no water, and the farm was very old and very run down. On a fiercely hot January day with not so much as a blade of grass to be seen, they explored their new home. Mel went straight into the house and Pete went straight out to the paddocks. The farmland grazed back to dirt and the property stinking of sheep, they wondered what on earth they’d done, but when Pete started to dig, a few inches beneath the surface he found the best vineyard soil he had ever seen. Their dream had become their reality and the property was sold. PROVENANCE, DISCOVERY AND CUSTODIANSHIP About Garden & Field Surrounded by the stark beauty of Moculta’s rolling hills and ancient gums, Gnadenberg Road in the Barossa’s high country has an understated, yet significant provenance. The name of the road itself speaks volumes, translating from German as Hill of Grace. It borders highly sought-after viticultural land, rich in local history, including that of Garden & Field’s distinguished home block. Just 1.6 kilometres down the road to the east is Henschke’s world-renowned Hill of Grace Vineyard, with only one other vineyard between them. In 1856, the remote block of land was purchased by Samuel Smith who planted the property to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. But Samuel was convinced by his wife, Mary, to sell the vineyard to Wilhelm Schilling. The Schilling family built the farm’s cottages from granite rocks they cleared from the site, living there and tending the vines for over 100 years. With no ongoing family interest to maintain the vineyard, the property was sold in the late 1970s. But the new owner, with no allegiance to the majestic old vines, pulled out the vineyard during the 1980s Vine Pull Scheme. Initially captivated by the site’s location, but not fully realising its rich history, Mel and Pete bought the derelict property in 2008, after it had been on the market for over 2 years. Pete recognised the site’s significant viticultural potential, with its south-facing aspect and complex red clay soils. They sourced Shiraz from Langhorne Creek, and trimmed, calloused and established it in their own nursery.Ready to get started on the daunting task of replanting by hand, Mel and Pete arrived one morning in August 2009 to find a gathering of old locals, kitted out with picks and shovels, and insisting they help out. Glad to lend a hand, the elderly neighbours had, as teenagers, hand-picked the original 1856 vine plantings back in the 1920s and ‘30s, and considered the property sacred viticultural ground. By 2012 it was clear that the quality of the Shiraz, hand-pruned, hand-picked, and dry-grown in this very special patch of dirt, was indeed outstanding. The fruit was contracted to Penfolds, making its way into their luxury reds, St Henri and RWT. In 2015, after many years of watching and learning, Pete turned his hand to making his own wine, retaining some of the lovingly-tended fruit for use in the Garden & Field label. In doing so, he both literally and figuratively broke down the walls between the vineyard and winery, crafting wines from the ground up that can hold their own with the best of them.Mel and Pete selected the name Garden & Field after discovering the historical print edition. It’s known as one of South Australia’s first agriculture publications by Albert Moulineux. Albert’s findings set the path for many land holders shaping the way for vineyards as we see them today, a true testament to resilience and dedication.
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