Tripping Over East

While it is my ambition to cross the mighty Nullarbore, like all good travelling kiwis should, our sales trip to Sydney and Melbourne began on a bargain Jetstar flight. I must say, the seats really don’t allow for people over 5.5ft, but it gets you from A to B with left over pocket money for overpriced airport beer.

In weeks leading up to the trip we were amazed and excited while researching the organic producer’s movement that has really taken off in the east in recent years. A consumer driven push for producers to make a quality product, that tastes great, and is achieved because of and without the use of synthetic chemicals and preservatives has led to thriving farmers markets connecting the consumer with the farmer. We know firsthand how much hard work it takes to produce and then market a product let alone the pitfalls of agriculture! It is however infinitely satisfying sharing the wine with public and trade when the worth of the product is realised. Its great to see a movement towards better eating, better drinking through sustainable farming and food production.

Sydney was a rush. Many things had changed since I had last been there and treasures to discover and re-discover. A definite highlight would be the wine bar 121bc (link) where we were offered intimate service on the unique Italian wines they specialise in. In particular an ‘orange wine’ made much like fino sherry with ullage intentionally left in the barrel causing a fine ‘flor growth’ on the wine surface. I didn’t know if I was drinking sherry, port or wine, but whatever it was, it tasted great!

Among the amazing food, wine and beer we were also fortunate to meet some amazing people. Daniel Honan, the wine blogger and innovator otherwise known as ‘The Wine Idealist’ (link) passionately chronicles Biodynamic wine producers. It was a pleasure spending an arvo discussing the finer points of preservative free and natural wine production. Daniel is also half the organising team behind the very successful ‘What’s in your glass?’ (link), an artisan wine and food festival held yearly in Newcastle. 

A week in Sydney was not long enough but we were glad to take a night to breathe some beautiful blue mountain air, visit some local organic produce markets, (mmm goats cheese), walk the city streets and catch up with family and friends. 

Next stop Melbourne which was new territory to me but familiar to Matt, wow what a city! I love how you don’t even know there’s a bar/restaurant hiding away then suddenly there’s a place buzzing with life and impressive style. Huge thanks to Matt’s family who made the trip full of adventure, laughs and unforgettable moments. 

I know I use the word awesome a lot, but really it was just AWESOME to, firstly, see the incredible businesses that are exciting, innovating and diverse in their selection and wine and beer. Secondly how approachable and excited everyone we met was about Freehand wine. It makes all the difference when the energy and heart we put into making the Freehand wines is received by most with enthusiasm across all the varieties. It really makes it all worthwhile to see people genuinely enjoying the wines.

Thanks to the magnificent, (see I didn’t use awesome), efforts and synergism of Michael Gow from Raw Wine and Beer (link), Freehand can now be found in awesome outlets around Melbourne (see freehand stockists - link). For over 12 years, Michael has been working hard on representing good tasting, good feeling, organic, biodynamic or preservative free wine and beer to all the best bars and stores in Melbourne.

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a few blissful days out on the Mornington Pininsula. We celebrated our first night with fresh rock oysters (from the Vic markets), French brie and Stonier sparkling, heaven! Some wine touring in the Mornington uncovered some impressive Chardonnays, Pinots and even Shiraz with equally impressive views to boot. Gorgeous. 

We managed a brief visit to the smaller producers of the Yarra valley, attending the ‘Shortest lunch’ (link), a day full of great wine and great company.

We returned to the farm to begin the unavoidable task of pruning our vineyard, with renewed vigour and energy from our trip away. The cherry on the cake was the news that our Freehand 2013 Semillon made the Max Allen top 10 drops in the Gourmet Traveller food September edition (link). What else can I say other than...WOHOOO!

No doubt we will be back again, Freehand guns blazing, probably with exciting new releases to try. Thanks Melbourne and Sydney for the great times and see y’all soon!

- Danni