This Guest Post comes from Corrina Wright. Corrina is chair, panel chair and judge at numerous wine shows around Australia and serves on a number of national, state and local industry boards. She is of course best known as winemaker for Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards and as a fabulous ambassador for McLaren Vale. Our deepest thanks to Corrina for taking the time to share these words and pictures with us. (The original post can be found at http://seaandvines.com.au/blog/corrina-wright-sea-vines)
My life is pretty much defined from all sides by the sea and the vines. If you add in family, a little bit of netball, quilting, reading and travel, you pretty much have the sum total of me sorted. I can’t even imagine my life without these anchors, these important touch-points that have always been central to my life.
In my past, I have lived away from the Vale for periods of time. However, I can’t describe the feeling of pure calm that comes over me as I drive back home through the hills and catch the first glimpse of the sea from the top of Chapel Hill Road, peeking out from the gum trees and the patch worked valley of vines, all embraced by the Willunga Hills. This view is like a big, warm, satisfying hug- always changing in different light or seasons and, sometimes so beautiful that it takes your breath away. Home.
We live in the middle of our vineyard. A vineyard on a patch of land that my family have lived on for more than 170 years. The land and the vines are pretty much part of my DNA now, and I am happy to be able to raise the seventh generation of our family with the same piece of dirt flowing through their veins. I will be forever grateful to the generations before me who chose this spot in the first place and looked after it, whether that was through luck or hard work, enabling our generation to leave our own mark in these soils.
We have our own little wine brand, Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards, and we turn the grapes from the vineyard into wines that we hope speak of our little patch in McLaren Vale. Our vineyards are in a section of the Vale that was known in the old times as ‘Sea View’, because from the tops of our rolling hills, you can look out to Gulf St Vincent. All of our wines are made from grapes grown on the Taranga vineyard, and we love the opportunity to show our region to the world. Of course, we are only one of many amazing wineries and vineyards in our region, all of which have their own stories. I invite you to take a journey down to McLaren Vale and hear these stories, taste the wines for yourself and really experience what is a very special part of South Australia.
Vines are part of my everyday – waking up in amongst them, driving to work through them, working in them, tasting their fruits, kicking the dirt, telling stories about them. The sea, too, is part of my everyday. Not only do I see it from the tops of our hills or drive past it regularly. I may take the dog for a walk, do a family bike ride along the esplanade, run the stairs at Maslin Beach at dawn, enjoy sunset at The Victory (Sellicks), a meal at The Star of Greece (Pt. Willunga) or a cooling ice-block from the Deep Blue Cafe (Moana). Of course, in Summer most evenings are spent at the beach, washing off the hectic days that are our harvest time. Nothing enables a very energetic five-year-old boy to wear himself out quite like an evening at the beach. More often than not in summer he gets popped into bed still salty after instantly falling asleep in the car on the way home.
The sea takes on an even bigger importance in my family, as I am married to a surfer. (In fact, as I write this, I am actually sitting on a beach in Nusa Lembongan, Bali, watching said husband surf one of the many breaks out in front of our villa!) As all surf widows would know, surfers are unable to be very far from the sea at any point. Even a drive to the Barossa starts a cold sweat! Surfing the fun little breaks on the mid-coast keep him sane, and our family trips always involve the sea in some way. My husband is also a viticulturist, and the owner/brewer of the newest craft beers to McLaren Vale- Swell Brewing Co. Of course, it has a surfer on the label, and is “…Best enjoyed cold, from a glass with your mates, after a day on the coast….”
Living near the sea has an impact on our lifestyle in so many ways, especially with our food. My uncle, Don Oliver, is a passionate viticulturist at Oliver’s Taranga, and an even more passionate fisherman. Keeping us all stocked with freshly caught King George Whiting, smoked Tommy Ruff and delicious Garfish, not to mention squid. We even planted some new grapes on our vineyard to match better with our diet of local seafood. Vermentino, which has its original home in the island of Sardinia in Italy, has found a new spiritual home in McLaren Vale. With its seaside herb, and saline oyster shell characters, and its delicious lemony acidity it is a dream pairing with pretty much anything that comes from the sea. In fact, our special meal for Sea & Vines this year is Chef Todd Steele‘s Swell Beer Battered Whiting, with a glass of our freshly bottled 2015 Oliver’s Taranga Vermentino. I know it is winter, but that is a perfect match of the sea and the vines, and is sure to have you thinking of summer in a flash.