Freehand is a creative collaboration between Danni Paviour-Smith & Matt Eastwell. Our winery is based in the beautiful hamlet of Denmark, WA.
Contact us for a winery tasting (by appointment only).
Matt Eastwell grew up in the Perth Hills of WA. Fresh out of high school Matt studied philosophy, psychology and audio engineering. He is a keen guitarist; having written, recorded and produced albums for Folk band Kissing Tree. Following that he spent a few years in Melbourne with another WA band, The Critics, touring the east coast, recording and releasing a few EP’s.
In 2004 it was time for a change of scene. Matt studied winemaking and viticulture at Curtain University in Margaret River.
Following his studies Matt & his folks purchased the Freehand vineyard in 2007 and converted a conventionally grown vineyard to organic and biodynamic practices.
Danni Paviour-Smith is originally from a dairy farming district on the west coast of the north island, NZ. Upon deciding to study winemaking, combining art with science, she enrolled and completed a double bachelor in Wine Science & Viticulture in Hawkes Bay, NZ. Hawkes Bay is an excellent grape growing region in NZ and provided the practical backbone to her studies as she gained experience in wineries and vineyards in the region. After graduating in 2012, Danni travelled to California for a vintage in Napa Valley. The next stop was Western Australia in 2013 where she accepted an assistant winemaker position for a winery in Pemberton. It was during this time Danni & Matt’s paths aligned.
In 2010, frustrated by the treatment of the grape grower by wineries purchasing grapes, Matt collaborated with local small batch Porongorup winery Fernbrook to make a No SO2, experimental batch of Shiraz.
The first Freehand wine! The rest, as they say, is history...
The Freehand vineyard was planted in 1997 and purchased by Matt Eastwell in 2007, when it was converted to organic and biodynamic farming. The 15 acre vineyard is planted to classic varieties of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. located 20km west of Mount Barker in a suburb called Forest Hill where some of the first plantings of the region originated.
The vineyard has supplied small parcels of fruit to local wineries, although drive and passion to make wine from this fruit under our own label always seemed like a good plan.
All Freehand wines are grown and made from this single estate vineyard. The fruit is handpicked to ensure top quality, vitality and freshness.
The grapes have a waxy shinny appearance that indicates health and vitality meaning it hasn't been overly exposed by canopy management or degraded by use of chemicals. Within the cuticle layer lives the natural yeast populations that naturally inoculate ferments.
Canopy management during the growing season is minimal as the lack of synthetic fertilisers and chemicals to push the growth of vines is eliminated. The vines find their own balance and while the crop load is less, the quality is so much more.
biodynamic / organic grapegrowing
Organic farming is the elimination of chemicals. No herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or any other synthetic ‘cides’. Only elemental sulphur is used throughout the growing season and one spray of copper for the first spray of the season to knock back over wintered spores. By not using chemicals we are allowing the native grasses & beneficial cover crops to grow between the rows and under vine. Insect life is rich with spiders, ladybugs, worms,earwigs etc that work with us to keep down pests & disease.
Biodynamic’s is a holistic way of farming. It considers not just at the plant that is growing but the soil it is grown in, the microbiology, insect life and the atmosphere around it extending to the cosmos and moon cycles.
The main practices used on the Freehand vineyard is preparation 500 and 501 which we source from BAA (Biodynamic Agriculture Australia). Preparation 500 is biodynamic cow manure that is matured in a biodynamic cow horn, buried underground for one year. Only a small amount is needed as it is homepathically sprayed around the vineyard when the moon is opposite Saturn. This manure contains billions of beneficial microbiological organisms that innoculate the vineyard, bringing life to the soil, increasing health & vitality.
The following morning with the sunrise preparation 501, comprised of silica, is sprayed into the atmosphere, harnessing energy from the cosmos & reflecting light into the vineyard.
What does preservative free mean? Added preservatives in wine are generally sulphur dioxide added in the form of PMS (potassium meta bisulphite). A common additive in ‘new age’ conventional winemaking, there are very few beverages produced without.
With preservative free winemaking we utilise and concentrate on natural elements within the grape and wine. These are tannins, (from skins, seeds & oak), natural acidity and alcohol. These are components have been relied on as preserving agents in European traditions for centuries.
Sulphur is not the only thing added to wine. Conventional winemaking practice involves using fining agents to ‘polish’ undesirable flaws in the wine. These can be synthetically made like PVPP (poly vinyl propylene) or from nature like eggs, skim milk or fish products. Some additions are required to be displayed on the finished wine's label, others are not.
Then the wines are filtered. Pushed through filter pads that ensure anything above a certain micron is eliminated.
Freehand wines don’t use either of these practices. We found through the "unlearning" experience that fining or filtration would subtract a certain something from the wine. These techniques are a bandaid solution often employed to "treat" fruit that is not of high quality or was harvested damaged or diseased. If Freehand fruit is not up to the standard, it stays in the vineyard and never makes it into the winery. This is an expensive decision but ensures the quality of fruit from the start.
This all means Freehand wines look and taste different...
The whites have a deeper colour as they are fermented on the skins. There’s so much flavour and tannin in the skins which make the wines very juicy and fruit forward. Whites are generally bottled within 10 months to retain freshness.
The reds are made traditionally with open top ferments, plunging twice a day then basket pressed to older French oak for 18-24 months. This time in barrel allows the tannins and acid in the wine to soften and the flavours to integrate making the wine ready to drink very soon after bottling.
The fruit is treated with upmost respect in the winery. Every movement is well considered, minimal and gentle as possible to ensure the best quality we can achieve with natures harvest year by year.