Bruce Anderson

The pride of Australia

The vineyard near Melbourne that's taking on the French

When she graduated from university in Australia, Sarah Crowe decided to travel. So she sold her car, raised whatever other funds she could, and bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul. Anxious relatives’ doubts were brushed aside: rightly so. This was a brave and resourceful girl.

As she made her way across the continent, Sarah’s embrace of European culture quickly extended to wine. Arriving in Burgundy, she used her personality, determination and zest for hard work to find employment and build up experience. Back in Australia, she had no difficulty in persuading a winery to hire her.

Her qualities quickly shone through. No one at the vineyard put in longer hours. She did everything and learned about everything. It was also apparent that she had an outstanding palate and was a natural leader. To her, wine was not a job. It was a vocation. She found it easy to persuade her team to share her enthusiasm.

So when one of the biggest challenges in Australian winemaking fell vacant, she was chosen. Although some of her rivals were more experienced, she won on inspiration.

The vineyards at Yarra Yering, north of Melbourne, were created by Dr Bailey Carrodus, a rich man, absolutely dedicated to the art and craft of winemaking. Someone once suggested to him that he was a perfectionist. ‘I suppose so,’ he replied, ‘until they invent something better.’ He believed that with time and effort, Australian wines could be as good as the best.

For him, the best meant France: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, plus some shiraz and malbec. Yarra Yering has one immense advantage. It is in a cool valley. So the vignerons do not have the same problem as some of their Californian confrères: an unrelenting sun inciting the fruit to overwhelm the tannins and swamp subtlety in alcohol.

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