Wine Unearthed

Margaret River's Sense of Place

August 01, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Wine Unearthed
Margaret River's Sense of Place
Chapters
Wine Unearthed
Margaret River's Sense of Place
Aug 01, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association
What makes this land so unique?
Show Notes Transcript

Is it a smell, a taste or just a feeling? Get to know Margaret River’s arresting natural environment through an Aboriginal cultural custodian who explains human’s sense of connection to the land (and gives a leaf-blowing demo). Also, learn what drives a biodynamic winemaker to nurture soil, and a hiking guide walks us along an ancient mountain ridge. 

Speaker 1:
0:01
Welcome to one on earth. This podcast takes you behind the scenes of the Margaret River wine making region in Western Australia, the very place named best in Asia Pacific by travel authority, lonely planet. It's produced for you by your Margaret River region and the Margaret River Wine Association. My name is Flo Bainer. I'm a food and travel journalist and I'll be taking you through this gorgeous spot, tasting the wine, meeting the people, and breathing in the around
Speaker 2:
0:31
far, what do we got here? This is a Dick Woods, one of the superstars of Margaret River at the moment. Very much the expression of just want it like in that little part of yelling up what you find in this characteristic. A cabernet has abusiveness to them. It's structured, it's quite tight bodied, dried her characters, perhaps even some black Holland, especially towards the yelling up in towards the northern end of Margaret River.
Speaker 1:
1:04
Margaret River is almost too good to be true. It's essentially a peninsula that sticks out the side of Western Australia, edged by ocean speed with masses of tall trees and rode with vineyards that produce a huge amount of Australia's highest level one. One of the reasons it's able to do that is it's magical environment and that's something we're going to learn a bit about in this podcast.
Speaker 2:
1:26
Everywhere you go, there's just wildlife, you know, you'll hear the birds, you'll see the birds.
Speaker 1:
1:30
In a moment we'll pull on our hiking boots and explore the regions June's as we hear how natural elements combined to create perfect conditions for wine making. This drained low nutrient environment that produces ultimately high quality wine. A little later we'll meet a wind dandy man who's going to walk us through the deep connection that he's got for country
Speaker 2:
1:49
here. The sixth season cycle, we basically keep in like a wheel, so every two months is a seasonal change.
Speaker 1:
1:57
Kneel down and smell the earth on a biodynamic vineyard.
Speaker 2:
2:00
All right, there's a nice big fat, juicy wounded
Speaker 1:
2:03
best though Peter Forester is a wine critic and the coauthor of the way. It was a book that details the early days of the Margaret River wine region.
Speaker 3:
2:15
Pedro does a bit of a buzzword in the wine industry that a lot of us don't really understand, but it relates to what we're talking about in this podcast. And the word is terroir. Can you explain this very fancy term to us? Yeah, look a French word that essentially is all of the influences on a wine. You know, the most obvious one is the place that it comes from. So in Margaret Rhythm you got a huge difference in temperature even from yelling up in the north to Kara down the south. Then you've got all of the factors that influence that. Let's talk a little bit more about John Gladstones cause he was a scientist who used to go down to the region quite a bit. Remarkable man and a great observer of nature. Talks about remembering. He was a youngster smelling the orchard fruit at Alexander Bridge. You said the perfume I've never experienced anywhere else. And so he then you know, studied the situation and wrote a couple of papers, you know, 50 years down the track. He's been proven to be absolutely spot on.
Speaker 4:
3:24
Let's look even further back to the days when the earth was forming. Jane Hottie is someone who's deeply connected to the region and its environment so much so he's built up a hiking business in Margaret River called Cape to Cape explorer tours. He's really good at explaining the regions ancient geology and how it links to excellent winemaking, but before getting into the nitty gritty, Jane took me out to a sandy stretch on the Cape to Cape track for a rummage in the Bush
Speaker 5:
3:52
guys. Well, there's all kinds of things I want to track as you bumbling along. This one, he is called [inaudible], but we're down the, I believe Courtney Bane and it's actually really ripe and looking good. You can try this one. Here you go. Give it a bit of squeeze. How would you describe the smell? I call it native. I'm rosemary. It's not really that riser. You can't cook with it now. You're an interesting character. You've got this crazy head of hair, the tight curls to go in every direction. You've got your proper hiking shirt on, but you're wearing boardies at the same time. Is this your usual uniform? Yeah, it's a, I carry with me, you know, I went to uni and did a couple of different things there and thought I'd end up in a suit in an office somewhere. I really thought that I did work experience once and I was like, Whoa, I think I'm cut out for this. And, and to be loading it around the beach with wild hair doing in shorts permanently is just the best thing that ever happened to me. I cause of things. There's other like this is the um, just beautiful little salt Bush and just smell so uplifting. You know,
Speaker 4:
4:54
Jane and I took a break on the sand in a sheltered spot and he tells me what's so special about the Cape to Cape.
Speaker 5:
5:02
Well, the [inaudible] track is definitely one of the jewels in the crown of the matter. We have a region 124 kilometer long coastal track II traverses a really diverse landscape between Cape naturalist in the north all the way down to Cape Lewin in the south. And both of these capes have got a lighthouse on them. So it's like a lighthouse. The lighthouse hike, is it just, yeah, so much diversity on the, on the track. Yeah. It's not just on the cliffs. It's not just in the forest, not just on the beach. Every step is different in every kilometer is a completely different ecosystem.
Speaker 6:
5:38
[inaudible]
Speaker 5:
5:39
it is part of a biodiversity hotspot, one of 34 35 or internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots. And everywhere you go there's just wildlife, you know, you'll hear the birds, you'll see the beds and it's, there's just so much out and about.
Speaker 4:
5:55
How did you get so hooked on it? Oh, I was so
Speaker 5:
5:58
lucky. I was born in, in Margaret River, apparently conceived on the beach and a, which is way TMI, but I from a very young age would, would head down the beach originally fishing. And then later on I got into surfing and also into free diving. And I was just always on the coast exploring. And it was just my freedom. It was just my happy place, you know, I was, and, and in being able to share that it, it's so incredible. And even like I've now go surfing with my daughters all the time down the coast and we were hiking back along these tracks like we were sitting now and have a stop midway and we might be eating some Bush food lying around. And I just kind of close my eyes and just think disadvantage as good as it gets.
Speaker 4:
6:42
Let's talk about what makes up this coastline cause it's incredibly old and it's really diverse, surprising geology. How do you explain it to people?
Speaker 5:
6:50
What happened about 350 million years ago was that all of the continents came together and the continent of India actually slammed into the West Australian coast. It was the only bit that it collided with. And the only bit that was left was this 124 kilometer edge. So the Cape, the Cape itself, essentially you're walking on the backbone of an ancient mountain ridge, which is part of India. And what sort of rock do you find along the way? Well, originally it was granite and granite is an igneous rock. So it, it regionally was lie down as um, you know, lava that cooled very slowly under the surface. But when it had this collision, there was this tearing and upward push and movement and all this heat. And that was a metamorphic, right? And it made the granite, it both, it all out of the surface. So it looks so different. It's so dramatic. It's not like big black, old lie. Dan, granted this stuff's got texture and it's got all these oranges and reds and all these courts banning through it and you can see what's happening. How old is that? Granite? So the granite, it's not super duper old, it's like half a billion years old. But overlaying that really interesting is a another rock and it's Aioli and Kel, Karen Knight or Tamala Limestone. And that I always was the great garner wind and the wind blew the sand up on top of the granite. And in true calcification, it actually all got glued together like some mint.
Speaker 4:
8:23
So then if you paint us a picture of what you can see as you hike along the [inaudible] track, what does it look like?
Speaker 5:
8:29
Top deck chocolate. It's amazing because it's these, these combination of these two rocks give us so many amazing elements of the Margaret River region because they're too crackly and uneven and too broken up in that tiering to create a flat reef to surf on. But the limestone sits in between or that gets cut off to form wave cut platforms and is perfect for surfing the caves. They all have a base granite but then they're in the limestone. The limestone is like a sponge and it lets the Kerry trees grow because they need more water than we've got here from the rainfall and obviously the wine, you know like this combination of rocks and the proximity to the ocean and the ladder. Riddick gravel is this perfect dry and low nutrient environment that produces ultimately high quality wine.
Speaker 4:
9:22
Once I had all the background, it was time to hit the track again.
Speaker 7:
9:28
[inaudible]
Speaker 5:
9:29
the uh, you can see the purple flower of the Ska volar at its amount event as well. And this Kavala here is, it's really interesting, you know, like this coastal heath, you feel that it's like, oh, it's all sticky. If you have sticky that is, yeah. It's like, it's like a piece of sticky tape. Literally almost. It's kind of that, that stickiness.
Speaker 4:
9:46
What do you think that could be? I have absolutely no idea. It's actually the plant suncream sticky high spooky. Yeah.
Speaker 5:
9:56
You get quite a few frogs on the track as well. One of my favorites, the motorbike frog. Nice. And all this.
Speaker 8:
10:03
Uh,
Speaker 5:
10:03
bye. My mom, my mom
Speaker 8:
10:07
[inaudible]
Speaker 5:
10:10
and they'll actually call back to you and it's really cool because he's got the little frogs and the little frauds are scared of the motorbike froze his motor fire frogs, the big gray ones. They eat little frogs. So if you hear the little frogs like, um, the quacking frog and I got this right. If you hear those guys and you do a motorbike frog, all the cracking frogs stop. Yeah. There's a couple of other cool ones. One you've heard of and it's at night. It's called the moaning frogs.
Speaker 9:
10:41
[inaudible]
Speaker 5:
10:48
and the other one's a band j frog as well.
Speaker 4:
10:51
Well cool.
Speaker 9:
10:52
Oh cool.
Speaker 5:
10:56
That's pretty cool. Tell you, there's often a lot of frogs out here, particularly after kind of after rain and in the wetter areas,
Speaker 4:
11:02
and is it like anywhere? If you've got frogs, that means you've got a healthy ecosystem. Yeah. Frogs are a really good indicator when she loads the frogs. It's really cool. Folks are also important to Margaret Rivers, aboriginal people that were Dandy or salt water people, cultural custodians. Zach web grew up with both an indigenous education about his land and teachings about the wine industry with his family having faith in each camp. He took me to a local Billabong to share his connection to country.
Speaker 5:
11:29
If we just go for a walk, just down here, we got down towards near the swamp and near the waterways and you start to hear a lot of the frogs and that [inaudible] will start to indicate the freshness of the water. So I say I demerara Komara [inaudible] ancestors, ancient ones as spirits. I say mirror mural
Speaker 10:
11:54
eyes Genung c but yeah,
Speaker 11:
11:58
country [inaudible] beautiful country. So we basically say that if we come to a water edge and if we don't hear any one way of quite yet, no talking of the frogs, it's why [inaudible] bad water make you sick. But if we hear the frogs, we know that water is fresh to drink.
Speaker 8:
12:28
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
12:28
the Noga people of southwest, Western Australia, they also have a calendar that has not four but six seasons.
Speaker 8:
12:42
[inaudible]
Speaker 10:
12:42
the four seasons of autumn, summer, winter, spring don't really come from here and not really relevant. They are from England?
Speaker 8:
12:50
No,
Speaker 10:
12:51
and he are the sixth season cycle. We basically keep in like a wheel. So every two months is a seasonal change. So we as aboriginal people don't just go, oh, it's the first of this month. It's spring time. These flowers must be the spring. Yeah.
Speaker 12:
13:12
Wow.
Speaker 10:
13:13
It's to do with what their cycle is. I was actually talking to a local winemaker just the other day and he was saying he will pick the grapes when he starts to see the kangaroos jumping the fences into his paddocks and when you see certain birds come on to his property, he said that that has been the best production time that the most tastiest of his wine has come out. Does that make sense to you? It totally does. Yep. So when he started to talk about some of the stuff, I was like, wow, that's exactly how we look at country too and encouraged him to keep looking like that and that's what we encourage a lot of people to do, to have a look at their surroundings and really listen to what the country's saying while she speaks
Speaker 1:
14:01
is Zach's role as a cultural educator with the underlap association. He shows people that we can all have a connection to country.
Speaker 13:
14:11
I guess the belonging and the connection to country that we all have is about the sense of place and that feeling that we belong. I liken it to when a lot of people go out on country, they love to go for walks, uh, through the bush, whether it's by the river or the ocean itself. They like to walk on country and experienced that feeling. And when they get to places, they feel as though they're connected or belongs to that area, whether you're an indigenous person or not. And I like to say to people, that is the connection that we all as human beings have to the land and to the country. And it's about listening when the country is telling you that you have that connection
Speaker 8:
15:03
[inaudible]
Speaker 13:
15:03
so sometimes you might go to a place when, uh, it's not feeling that well. You feel bad and you shouldn't be there. I say to a lot of people will heed that warning cause as aboriginal people, that's what we do as well. We listened to the country and if the country is telling us not to be there, there could be a word younger or young era, bad spirits. And just to make sure that you're feeling it with inside you. So that connection to country we have as aboriginal people is just listening to the [inaudible] or the [inaudible], the mother and the country and listening to what she has to say.
Speaker 13:
15:45
This river here is very significant. The Margaret River or the word [inaudible] billion known to our people as it's a song line or a story about our grandfather where rich and our grandmother Milian and the story of how they came together and when they were married. So when they're quite a mart, when the hearts became a family can, can you tell us more about the songlines and what they are for those who don't know and where they cover in Margaret River? Well the songlines are throughout country and the song lines a written within country that we see today. These are what I would liken to on your Tom, Tom or your gps when using your car, it's your final destination and the song line is the route that you are taking within your car to get there. Our people are sun song lines and told the stories and significance of certain places and areas so that we get a visual understanding in our mind of what the country looks like and our traditional boundaries.
Speaker 13:
16:48
So lack from one or up, you're going to sing that warning peppermint tree, the Goannas flicks Yasser and from where nine we're gonna talk about how I yoga women will make from a warning that will make our [inaudible], which is their low digging stick. And from that Webinar they will go to places such as one or up the place of the women's law digging stick. So it will connect those trees to the country, to the land, to the rivers, to the next song line or the next place. And by doing that, oh the wife as children you require no technology to tell you where you are or where you belong in the world. Zach's family straddles two cultures. One side's aboriginal and the other side is from wine making stock. My grandfather came from over in Melbourne on my mom's side. She was born near mill juror. My grandfather was actually asked to come over to Western Australia here and to show them how to start a vineyard. My mother came over and my grandmother and family subsequently to school with my dad's sisters, met up with my family and I'm a product of that ever since I was a young little coroner. I remember while they picking grapes in the vineyards, I'd be there eating. That'd be telling me, donate too many cause you're going to get a corporate mandate, a sick belly soon.
Speaker 4:
18:07
Zach never felt compelled to work in the wine industry. His father's side, the indigenous side inspired him to look after the earth in different ways.
Speaker 13:
18:15
I had growing up with my family on country as well. We used to get taken out by my great grandmother and great-grandfather's out on country all the time. Collecting things like um, Bartee, witchetty grubs and all the foods, so like Bush medicines and Tacos. I guess that was one of the major factors that drove me following my career path towards rangering and looking after country
Speaker 4:
18:40
before I left him, he showed me how to make bird calls using a peppermint tree leaf. Between his palms picking
Speaker 13:
18:47
the nice fresh shoe. You're looking for the fairy sort of relief when the core Bartee when the magpies they call out to mum and dad for food.
Speaker 14:
19:02
[inaudible]
Speaker 13:
19:03
so you get that a also we get a lot of the ducks throughout the swamp periods. They go,
Speaker 6:
19:09
Huh, Huh, Huh, Huh, Huh, Huh.
Speaker 13:
19:14
We all say sound out some of the cockatoos like
Speaker 14:
19:24
woo.
Speaker 15:
19:27
Wow.
Speaker 13:
19:28
Alright. We do a correct, which is that red towel or that cockatoo. But also if you listen to it go dude
Speaker 16:
19:35
did, did, did you did, did, which is a dared or the 28 parrot.
Speaker 3:
19:45
What are we smelling and tasting? Yeah, Kevin. I from 2017 so this is some blind corner, the one that gets Ben Gould. It's beautifully made wine. There's a purity quite Suki. It's, yeah, it's a good drink. The blind corner is a biodynamic wine. Are you hearing about many other wineries going towards greener practices? Look, I mean certainly places like vast feelings and voyage around changing the way that they operate. Vanya colon believes that, um, since they've adopted biodynamic practices that they want a much better, you know, she notes that are they, the gripes brought in more quickly? I think it's probably easy to argue that people who live in Margaret River generally are really quite connected to the environment and interested in its preservation. Would you say that's the case? Yeah, I think for a lot of people that's the sort of reason that they've gone to Margaret River in the first place. It is somewhere where you do feel close to the earth, close to the ocean, and that does tend to reflect not just better culture, but out of wide range of farming practice.
Speaker 7:
20:58
This is
Speaker 4:
21:02
north of Margaret River, just out of yelling up. Ben Gould tends to a biodynamic vineyard and winery. So we're with Ben good at blind corner. He's connection to the country, inspired him to find a way to grow grapes without hurting the earth, which is a concept he first came across in France.
Speaker 11:
21:18
Well, it's been a slow burn for me. So I've been in vineyards and wineries now for 20 years and sort of conventional vineyards, conventional wineries sort of added everything to wine, sprayed everything in the vineyard and thought that could be a better way when traveling with my wife, we spent six months in a builder's van doing every surf break and wine region in western Europe. And along the way we saw places like [inaudible], which is quite famous that the man named Nicholas Scholly, he's sort of the grandfather of biodynamics and his vineyard was alive. You know, the, the wines he was making were zero sulfur and the, when you walk through the vineyards there's birds and butterflies and no disease and you know, the soils were healthy and everything just looked magic and thought, okay, this is interesting. So when we came home to start our own place on a small plot of land, we wanted to build a house and have a family and didn't want to keep sort of running out and eating dirt and eating something that could potentially be dangerous or bad. And so then how did the switch happen? Slowly? Uh, we just cut out all chemicals pretty much straight away and I'd read a lot about biodynamics and was sort of sitting there going, okay, I don't understand any of this. And then I read something that said the best thing to do is start. So I went, okay, well we'll start with a little bit and see how we go. Now we have 24 hectors of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards.
Speaker 4:
22:40
We're standing in one of them right now. Yes. The vines are going artist's side, like a row of Corduroy and there's some beautiful dirt underneath our feet where you've just planned. What have you planted?
Speaker 11:
22:50
Oh, in the mid rise we've just put some six strains of Clovis in Fitch, peas, Rye, grass. Some are nitrogen fixing and we want to outcompete some things we don't like in the vineyard to instead of resorting to sort of spraying them out.
Speaker 4:
23:04
The Sun setting right now and the beautiful tall trees that are so characteristic of Margaret River are just fading into a silhouette at our backs. Shall we kneel down and have a look at this stuff that you've put so much effort into?
Speaker 11:
23:16
Let's have a look. I brought a shovel with me. We're just going to dig underneath one of these vines now. These are some old Sauvignon Blanc, Brian's,
Speaker 11:
23:27
so it's quite a sandy site here with fairly close to the coast, about four kilometers from the ocean and we spent a lot of time spreading compounds to try to build up the soil and build out the microbes in the soil because that's what transports a lot of the micro nutrients to the roots of the plant. And of course that troubles up in the PSAP and ends up in the grapes, which ends up in your glass of wine. You don't have a bit of a look. All right, there's a nice big fat juicy womb there just underneath that, the small root [inaudible].
Speaker 4:
23:57
So where's my good soil health? I imagine
Speaker 11:
24:00
that's right. That's it. It's a nice environment for them to be in. They can create all sorts of good conditions for the vines, but also the soil to to thrive. What we're trying to build is a pretty balanced biome in here. So, you know, lots of beneficial yeast and bacteria that can sort of transport the flavors and the nutrients that the bonds need.
Speaker 4:
24:20
So if we had a microscope and we zoomed in on this beautiful day that you've just pulled out and I've got running through my fingers, what would we see here?
Speaker 11:
24:28
Well, we'd hope to see lots of little wiggly things. Things like, you know, nematodes, geese, bacteria,
Speaker 4:
24:34
so much of Margaret River, like anyone region really in the world. It's built on soil. If we pick it up, you know, are there characteristics and even smells that we'll get the bee mountain. Oh, get out sweat. Yeah.
Speaker 11:
24:47
Even though this looks quite lonely and, and Sandy, there's a very strong gravel smell coming through, which is always indicative to me of Margaret River or some sort of smell of gravel in the eucalypts and the ocean. And then, yeah, you feel like you're home. It's nice and pliable as well. Isaiah, this Nicko l a winery cat. So she lives in the winery, but she's decided to follow us out here, I guess. That's quite funny. Hello? So she lives in the winery. She's air organic pest control. What does she pick up a well, we don't have a mice, a mouse problem anymore around the winery, which is fantastic and she's got a bit of a soft spot for cockroaches so we don't have those anymore either.
Speaker 4:
25:34
Adhering to biodynamic principles and traditional wine making practices means a fair bit more work. But Ben has found a clever solution to that.
Speaker 11:
25:42
All of our red grapes, all our red wine here, we all foot crush so everything's foot trashed and hand plunged basket pressed. All Walton entered. So very, very old school wine making. We used to, in the early days before staff, we'd be looking down the barrel of 12 to 14 hours of foot crushing by myself. So I came up with the idea of having a barbecue, getting a few friends around and uh, it quickly would solve the problem for me. I'd just be running around feeding people wine and, and drinks and uh, it would save me a lot of work. It was hard sometimes to get people to, to get in, but, but once people get in, they don't want to get out, which also causes an issue. I'm like, no, that's enough now I don't want it to too crushed.
Speaker 4:
26:22
How have drinkers started to respond to the biodynamic organic thing? Like do people seek it out now? Is it becoming well known? Is there a trend towards choosing that wine over otherwise?
Speaker 11:
26:31
Well, I think so. We've seen it. We've been lucky enough to sell out every year and the trend of wineries going more organic. I mean anything you read in the paper at the moment, you know you're showing how much of the growth of organic wine is happening. There's always been a bit of a subculture and it's just growing and growing
Speaker 3:
26:49
[inaudible]
Speaker 11:
26:49
and people want to know where this stuff comes from and what's sprayed on it and why and you know, so yes, it's certainly growing
Speaker 3:
26:56
[inaudible]
Speaker 11:
26:57
there's now currently an organic trial, which has just started down here for wine lovers who want to visit the organic wineries. Currently, there's only five of us, but you can pick them up at the tourist bureau and uh, come and say hello and say I had a Nicco
Speaker 7:
27:13
[inaudible]
Speaker 3:
27:14
let's see, what have we got this time? This particular wine is from Mr Barbel. One of the bright young guns, Ron Shirati, he calls it Vino Rosso, a blend of doe, cabernet franc and mural on it. Should we try? Nice. I liked it a lot. Good. Very smooth but kind of, um, spicy and a little bit sexy. Ooh, wow. What do you say to that? Whoa man. Look, try, get signed. [inaudible] revealing as, as that, but it's got a lovely, um, intensity. Um, the best one, Margaret, about a world class wines and you could take that to a dinner party in Paris, put it on the table and the people would say, you know, it would be very [inaudible]
Speaker 1:
28:16
one. Why large red in the moon on the glitter stuff that's above you on the phone. You're listening to local musician Claire Warnock and her track one won by the Cullen. One Song Soundtrack. Additional music by Josh Hogan, Ned Beckley and the new towns is bone dry. This podcast is supported by the international wine tourism grant funded by wine Australia, Margaret River wine association, Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, Southwest Development Commission, and Australia southwest. It's been scripted, recorded and presented by me. Flu Manger from White Noise Media, sound design by Tom Allen from barking wolf and produced by Sophie Mathewson. Sorry, one one. [inaudible] special thanks to the underlap association, her reminders that while visiting this beautiful part of the world, you walk softly on country for inspiration, planning your trip to this beautiful part of the world. Was it Margaret river.com.
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