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Ryan OMeara - #011

Ryan OMeara is a winemaker, grapegrower, surfer, father and beer drinker who started Express Winemakers, based in Denmark, in the Great Southern of Western Australia

His vineyard sites stretch across all sub-regions in the Great Southern, with Ryan dry-farming all blocks without the use of synthetic chemicals.  All wild-ferment in the winery and minimal movement all help Ryan to express his sites

www.expresswinemakers.com

Instagram @expresswinemakers

 

 

LINKS

Border pass
Denmark Surf Lifesaving Club
Bremer Bay
Santa Barbara
Little Creatures Fremantle
Lion Nathan
Tuscany-Agriturismo
Brunello
Yarra Valley
West Cape Howe
Boston Brewery
Natural Wine
Alfredo Maestro
Bibendum
Imbibo
lenclos-du-tertre
Oranje Tractor
Bonnie Prince Charlie
Moss Wood Cabernet
Leeuwin Chardonnay
Forest Hill Riesling
Cheninade
EU Petillant Rules
L'Orange
Orange Wine Region
Wine Australia - Orange wine advice
Newtowner Young Henrys
Functioning Tractor
Boof's magic stuff - Matrix
Agave isloated Yeast strain
Vineyard weevil
Frankie the dog
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Goose Gizzards
Ocean Beach
Colares Beach Vineyards 
Mike Bennie
Wine Fair Dormilona

 

TRANSCRIPT, EL DODGO:

Ben:
Hello and welcome to episode 11 of Real Wine People. It's coming in about nine months late, but we got there in the end. Currently New Year's Eve. It's about three o'clock here on the west. Cellar door has about an hour to go. There's people enjoying revving up for festivities and what a crazy year it's been. We had some big plans to do a lot more podcasts between March and now, but with border closures I couldn't get across to Tasmania, Mornington, South Australia again. We're sort of stuck and right now the borders have just re-shut with Victoria, so it's been a bit nuts.

Ben:
It has been a crazy year for us. Went from complete shutdowns here for about six weeks wondering if we're going to survive and our good restaurant people were going to get through as well to go through and just be one of the craziest years we've had. We had a few staff changes pre COVID and then during COVID people stuck across the country that couldn't come into our state. We're working pretty hard, then building a new winery. Yeah. Lots of madness. Also was sad to hear a friend, Taras Ochota, pass away in October, which was very sad. Our thoughts are with him and with his family. I still think about him quite often. All in all it's been a pretty challenging year for 2020. I hope everyone out there is doing okay.

Ben:
Just to push ahead here, this episode is with Ryan O'Meara of Express Winemakers down in Great Southern. I think probably, going forward, the podcast will stay pretty much WA centric until the borders open. Ryan and I spoke back in January and then the audio was pretty bad, so we decided to meet up again, have a few more beers and have a chat about what he's been up to and the year that was. Once again, happy new year to everyone. Here's to an improved 2021 and look forward to perhaps catching up soon. All the best.

Ryan O'Meara:
Lot of equipment.

Ben:
Cheers mate.

Ryan O'Meara:
Cheers.

Ben:
Yeah. Lots of tools and equipment.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. You have a good combo.

Ben:
Well we've got to work out what we're going to talk about, mate. It's only been ...

Ryan O'Meara:
Was that seriously January?

Ben:
Yeah. Last time I came down was January and the last, I think, podcast I put out was January as well.

Ryan O'Meara:
Have you not even been down here since January?

Ben:
Oh no, I've-

Ryan O'Meara:
You've been down.

Ben:
Oh no, because they closed the regions, so we tried to get down and we couldn't even get from Margaret River to Denmark.

Ryan O'Meara:
I thought you ran the gauntlet one time?

Ben:
We tried. No, we applied for the pass and they said no.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's right. I got one. I got one to come over your way.

Ben:
Yeah, that's right. You knew how to play the system. Maybe you're an essential worker.

Ryan O'Meara:
I'm so essential.

Ben:
Yeah. At the moment, just for people who are listening, we are in Denmark in the Great Southern speaking with Ryan O'Meara from Express Winemakers in my wife Naomi's Dad's woodworking shed.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, it's a great venue.

Ben:
We're looking at lots of power tools. We're actually recording this sitting on saw horses. What do you call this thing? A table saw, you reckon? We've got table saws and thicknesses.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, you know better than me.

Ben:
Yeah. Ryan and I caught up ... well, we catch up all the time usually, because Ryan loves margaritas so much. We caught up back in January for a quick chat and of course the world's gone a little bit crazy since then. We thought we'd give it a bit of a re-record. I've put no episodes out since then.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, no, I've noticed. I've been one of the people hassling you, constantly peppering you with emails going, "Ben, what's going on?"

Ben:
Yeah. I know. We had huge plans to go through, but we had Tazzy, Mornington and Victoria, back through South Aus and lots of people lined up, but of course borders are shut, world's gone mad. The whole COVID thing, how's that affected you down here from the beginning?

Ryan O'Meara:
I think we're probably some of the luckiest people on the planet at the moment. The whole time we had maybe a few weeks of panic and mayhem and then, since then, been fortunate enough for the isolation to just turn a bit of a blind eye towards it all with a bit of caution thrown in there. Yeah. Regards that, that's been easy. Home life and what have you has been easy, but yeah, watching the panic that kind of sets in as a business owner I think, trying to have any sort of forecast for what the future holds is definitely ... I don't think I'm alone in that it's stressed a few people out.

Ben:
Yeah, for sure. I think, like us, really heavy into restaurants and when all the restaurants were forced to shut you're like, well, that's it for us.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, exactly. I thought it was end game for sure, but it's kind of turned out a little bit the opposite in a strange way. It's been a lot of demand for alcohol, as you probably know as well. It's probably beyond that as well. There's been a bit of a shift in people's drinking preferences, perhaps.

Ben:
I think so.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
I looked at the figures, just diving deep into this now, the figures, we're drinking eight percent less as a nation since COVID started, but I think what's happened is the power has been put back into the purchaser's hands. If you go to a pub, that could be part of a group which might have a group deal, or could be part of a, might be owned by a big chain, or you've only got a choice of ... even if it's independent, a choice of maybe 40 wines. When people are making their own choices, organic food's up 50% since COVID started. They're making the choice to go to organic wine, or low impact wine.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, no, that's an interesting thought. I hadn't really thought that through to that extent, but it kind of makes a lot of sense.

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, there's definitely bottle shops who are getting in touch with me who I wouldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams would have ever bothered. No, it's been good on that side of things.

Ben:
Do you miss your Sydney trips? You think the margaritas are better there than Denmark?

Ryan O'Meara:
It was good to have a year off, a year off margaritas.

Ben:
Yeah, I haven't been to Perth since January either.

Ryan O'Meara:
Nice.

Ben:
Actually I went around it to go up north and then, yeah, to the ferry to go to Rottnest.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh Jesus. I've still had family trips to Perth, but yeah, not so many. It's been ... I thought it'd be a more relaxing year than it has been. It's kind of been ... looking at you who's frantically busy with all these different builds on at the moment, but I feel a bit busier than I expected anyway.

Ben:
Sure. Did you ... I think maybe we should rewind before we start going down more rabbit holes.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
How did you decide to ... oh there goes Martin.

Ryan O'Meara:
See you, Martin.

Ben:
He's off to-

Ryan O'Meara:
Bremer Bay.

Ben:
... Bremer Bay with the Denmark Surf Life Saving Club, he's the president. How did you get started in wine and what drove you ... sorry, how did you get started and what sort of stuff do you do?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I suppose it was just at school and saw, looking through all those course books of what courses you can do. It definitely sounded a lot better than pretty much everything else on there. You get to make booze and travel the world. That was pretty appealing. Then it's obviously never exactly like you think it's going to be. I was doing wine tasting classes when I was still underage at university. I had zero ... well probably above zero, but not much, appreciation for wine. Some of the wines that the university was showing us probably didn't help build that really, when you're drinking Coolabah with two grams tartaric acid per liter added to it just to test if you can pick up different nuances and whatnot. Yeah. I think once I graduated uni I still wasn't 100% sure that it was the right path for me.

Ryan O'Meara:
I traveled a little bit and got a better taste for it, I felt like. In the old world over in Europe you can kind of see a less industrial side of the business, people there living and breathing it and incorporating it into their lives with food and just the way they go about things. It wasn't all about the bottom dollar and how to increase profit and all this sort of stuff that was-

Ben:
Where did you end up in Europe?

Ryan O'Meara:
Where was I first? First I went to the States first when I first graduated and was there for nine months or so. That was a really good first stop working for a small producer in Santa Barbara in California. That was a pretty nice place to be.

Ben:
Cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
From there I ended up actually throwing the towel in after that, coming home and just being like, "All right, no, this kind of sucks." I ended up working at Little Creatures in Fremantle as a brewer for about two years. It was really good to see, I suppose, the different industry and the way that they work. There was a lot more enthusiasm and camaraderie and less ... I don't know how to put it.

Ben:
Snobbery?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, that's probably what I'm trying to ... I'm looking for a better word for it.

Ben:
Throw me under the bus, I said it.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. It was more my sort of scene with the beer at the time in the early, God knows, mid-2000s.

Ben:
I'd say they were fairly new there, about five years old or something?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. I was there when it went from private ownership, I suppose, to Lion Nathan. Yeah, no, it was good to see and see what they were doing. It seemed like a higher ... they were well more scientific and it was a little bit less subjective, I suppose. Everything was a bit more grounded in that way. It was a growth industry as well, whereas wine, at the time, was probably starting to maybe lose a bit of its sheen and people were tightening their belts and budget cuts and stuff, perhaps, around that kind of era. There'd been a lot of money spent before then. That was fun being involved, but then, at the end of the day I was like, oh, I still like wine more than beer, despite having drunk 10 times as much beer as wine in my life.

Ben:
Only 10? Where do margaritas fit in to that?

Ryan O'Meara:
Hopefully in my new percentage. Yeah. I got back into ... oh, I think I made travel plans. I made travel plans and then was flat broke in Europe and was like, "What can I actually do here to make money?" I was in Italy and then I asked around and ended up working in a winery in Tuscany and I was like, "Oh, this is kind of, yeah, this is good now, this is good."

Ben:
Awesome.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, that was a bit of personal growth that happened, perhaps.

Ben:
You were a cellar hand? Or did you take on-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, cellar hand, glorified cellar hand, assistant wine maker position where I couldn't actually speak the language so may as well just drag hoses around. That was interesting. The wines we were making were all right, they weren't, it wasn't Brunello or anything like that. It was apparently only a kilometer away from there.

Ben:
Sure. I was going to ask you where, but then you said their wines are not that great.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, I don't know, I think they probably still exist. I want to say it existed as much as a holiday destination for German tourists-

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
... as it did for pumping out wine.

Ben:
What, near the coast?

Ryan O'Meara:
No, no. What do they call it?

Ben:
Agro-tourism?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, essentially. Yeah. That's a good word for it. Yeah, no, it was good.

Ben:
Yeah. Agri-tourism? I said agro, maybe that's something to do with Fight Club.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, agri, agri sounds more accurate. Yeah, no, that was good fun. After that it just kind of snowballed again. I was working in Spain and France and then back to Spain again and then, in the off season, I'd come back to Australia and try and earn actual money, rather than just putting a roof over my head.

Ben:
Sure. How many years did that go on for?

Ryan O'Meara:
Maybe from '08 to 2011 or something like that. Yeah, a little while.

Ben:
Then came back to ... when you came back to Australia you weren't down here?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, I did, I was working in the Yarra Valley in 2009 and then everything caught fire.

Ben:
Yeah, of course.

Ryan O'Meara:
I was kind of going ... they said they'd keep me on, but the hours were pretty minimal and I was kind of a little bit maybe homesick by that stage. I was like, "Oh, I'll go back to WA." I had a good friend working down here in Denmark and I was like ... I hit him up and he was desperate for staff and then came here. I'd been here plenty before holidaying as a kid and was like, "Oh, this is kind of good." The Riesling tastes nice and it's kind of inspiring. I might stick around for a little while. I didn't stick around that long, I ended up going back to Europe, but it was always in the back of my head going that's kind of a nice alternative to other areas that I might have considered.

Ben:
Where did you work here?

Ryan O'Meara:
It was West Cape Howe then and then I probably did three or four vinages there.

Ben:
Which is now Foster Brewery?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, starting in Denmark and then one year I came back and the winery had moved. Yeah, it's in Mount Barker now, but not too far up the highway. Yeah. I was there for a couple of years as well and that was good. Yeah. It was still very, quite large scale compared to what I do now, but you learn a lot.

Ben:
What do you do now, Ryan?

Ryan O'Meara:
Stand on grapes and ... yeah, no, this year we've promised ourselves that I'll embrace the industrial revolution a little bit more.

Ben:
Really?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I've got a crusher that probably crushes as much as your neighbor, your old Italian neighbor who's wines, crank wines, he's pressed through. I've actually got two of those, so we could run them simultaneously, or I might maybe get a three phase generator and actually crush grapes properly.

Ben:
There you go.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, it's been, I suppose, so far from what I'd ever done with-

Ben:
Well what was the transition? You left West Cape Howe-

Ryan O'Meara:
Well I started making Express Winemakers there, the final year there I was ... no, the final two years I think I just asked and they were very kind and let me. At the time I was just maybe pilfering some of the best vineyards that I know that they worked with, which I'm sure they loved. I was just like, "Oh, that's really good, can I get some of that?" They said yes, so I took what I could afford and then made it into wine. Yeah. It's funny, because I still, back then, that was 2011 was our first year and I had no idea what natural wine was. Then probably didn't taste anything like that until probably some stage in 2012 or something like that. The eyes just opened. You're just like, "Oh jeez, what's this?" It tastes completely different to what I'm used to-

Ben:
Was that in Europe that you-

Ryan O'Meara:
... but I like it. No, no. That was definitely back home. It was just that first wave of natty Winemakers all from the Adelaide Hills, generally. Yeah, no, I kind of made one bottle. Once I had one, all of a sudden there was dozens and dozens. Yeah, no, that was inspiring to me. I had no shame, no hold back in just quickly diverting my course to go along that way. The first one to two vintages were just kind of another pop up brand, I suppose, slightly more handmade than others. Then, by 2013, I was seeking out organic vineyards. It took a few years to become exclusively organic vineyards. It probably was, first year was maybe 2016 or something like that.

Ben:
Right. When did you take the leap to go full time into-

Ryan O'Meara:
Vineyards and everything?

Ben:
Full time for Express Winemakers?

Ryan O'Meara:
About the same time as vineyards, I think, because you can see why they run parallel. You're like, "Shit, I've got no time of day anymore."

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I think 2016, I suppose. I tied it in with another trip back to working in Spain.

Ben:
Oh great. Where in Spain were you working?

Ryan O'Meara:
The last time was in Ribera del Duero with Alfredo Maestro.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
I just figured I'd never worked for an actual wine maker before, because usually they're pretty solo operations, or with a couple of mates or family. Yeah. Alfredo was in the Bibendum portfolio, which I was, I suppose, a part of in a way.

Ben:
With Imbibo?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. Then jumped on. I met Alfredo and he's a larger than life character. It was ... I suppose it was almost, unfortunately, a bit of a look into the future. I don't want to be as manic as this guy is, but it's kind of-

Ben:
Going that way?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Yeah. It was good. Then I suppose I was already looking after one or two vineyards then and I saw the way that he operated and he was just looking after bunches of vineyards, but looking after vineyards in Spain, in Central Spain is a very different thing to looking after them in the Great Southern. It doesn't really rain there.

Ben:
I was going to say, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
The vines are really old and they tap down to some deep underground water. They don't have much pressure from any mildew, really. I think they spray once or twice a year.

Ben:
Wow.

Ryan O'Meara:
Then here, I mean I've been pretty lucky so far. I've probably only seen powdery mildew once.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I'm diligent, Ben, I'm diligent.

Ben:
Yeah, I know. I know, right? Where did the name Express Winemakers come from?

Ryan O'Meara:
That was, it's a name I kind of regret in a lot of ways. I wish I had a cooler name.

Ben:
I think it's a cool name.

Ryan O'Meara:
It's about expressing a sense of place.

Ben:
Right. Oh, okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, which I ended up having to explain to every single restaurant and bar that you walk into and try and sell wine.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. It was supposed to be a bit of ... what do you call it? Double entendre, a bit ironic maybe. With the name Express it sounds like a fast food joint, but-

Ben:
Express as well from out of the press? That's what I thought it was.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yes, that was building into it as well. I was like, wow, this works on so many levels.

Ben:
It's clever. Yeah, cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I mean that's where that kind of came from. Then I suppose it's getting to a state now where I'm looking after six or seven different vineyards this year. The idea's always to release a couple of ... well, hopefully at least one single vineyard wine from each site, but I'm a bit reluctant. I'm wising up to that as well, just going ... it's not always the way. As excited as I am about a certain parcel, it doesn't necessarily always translate to the general public.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
I'm sort of trying to learn the realities of it. There's these internal battles that you have. You're like, "Blend me, don't blend me." I'm sure you've been through it.

Ben:
Yeah. Just yesterday we had two barrels of Chenin from the site, which we'd earmarked for sparkling based for the Crémant that we do. Two of them that's in three rolled white oak, it's all hand picked and pressed and racked straight to barrel to ferment and just left there the whole time. It's got nothing in it being a potential baseline, there's no sulfur or anything.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Now we're just going, "I think we might bottle that just as a sense of Chenin Blanc."

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. It's never been topped and it's kind of got a bit of that character going on?

Ben:
It's never been topped, but the bung has never been opened.

Ryan O'Meara:
Okay. Cool.

Ben:
It's pristine. Whether we can get that from that barrel into bottles like that, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I've done it so many times. I've forced myself. I always go down the path of erring on the side of bottling individually and probably really bad ratio of times of it not looking quite like I imagined. I don't want to be the downside, I reckon you should bottle it, but I've had Pinots and ... what are the other examples? That's the one that springs to mind first up. I've had other wines that I'm definitely like, "Yeah, that has to be bottled eventually by itself," and then end up regretting it in a way.

Ben:
Sits in the back of the shed for months?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think it needs to be done.

Ben:
Yeah. We'll see. I can think about it, in the deep south.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. I'll be up there soon enough.

Ben:
I think it's one of those things, we tasted it and now the bung has been opened. It's like, well, we've got to make a call. Do we bottle it or not?

Ryan O'Meara:
Was it quite oxidative already, or not at all?

Ben:
Zero.

Ryan O'Meara:
Okay.

Ben:
But it's the challenge of getting it to look like that in bottle, so transferring it from barrel into-

Ryan O'Meara:
Would you go ... yeah, that's when you always have those internal battles. You go sans sulfur or add a little bit and then is that fucking it up?

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. We've got a gas beer, so I might gas beer it direct to the vacuum filler. Anyway, there we go. Your vineyards, you look after six, some in Denmark here and Porongurups, anywhere else?

Ryan O'Meara:
Mount Barker, so that's in between.

Ben:
Yeah, okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Pretty much three of the five sub-regions of the Great Southern and then the other two sub-regions I've got a grower in each, an organic grower in each who I buy from. That's not an intentional thing. To be encompassing all the sub-regions of the Great Southern wasn't really an idea, but it just kind of worked out that way. It's really hard to source organic fruit here and that's-

Ben:
Because it rains?

Ryan O'Meara:
Something like that.

Ben:
It's cloudy now. It was sunny when I left home this morning.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
What are the sub-regions you've got? Mount Barker, Frankland-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, Mount Barker, Porongurup and Denmark I have vineyards in and then Frankland and Albany is the other where I use different growers. In Frankland there's a vineyard, I don't know what it's even called anymore, it's changed owners a few times in the last few years. It was L'enclos du Tertre with Lee and Clemence Haselgrove. They were doing a great job of running it and it's got some amazing Riesling which I try and get as much of as possible. Then in Albany Oranje Tractor vineyard, which is a quaint little set up there, beautiful little cellar door.

Ben:
Is that the one that Prince Charles went to?

Ryan O'Meara:
He sure did. There's photos of him everywhere there.

Ben:
Wow. Bonny Prince Charlie.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I get fruit from them as well, but it's literally, there's not many other organic growers. I mean that's why I went into growing my own, just because I couldn't source anything.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
It's still very ... I mean it's either reasonably broad acre kind of stuff down here almost and then the small guys just copy the big guys.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's what it feels like anyhow.

Ben:
Yeah, okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
It's very different to Margaret River where you've got your well known estates that are, I don't know, quite independent, I suppose.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Oh, okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
I don't know.

Ben:
There was that too in Margaret River, everyone wanted to make Moss Wood Cabernet or Leeuwin Chardonnay. This is going back when I was starting. That's what everyone was aiming to do. It's a different scene now, but yeah, I can see how that can happen.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I mean that's healthier than down here, it's kind of, I don't know how or why, maybe it's because of the agricultural past here that everyone wasn't even aiming to make Moss Wood Cabernet or Leeuwin Chardonnay, they were just trying to grow grapes and make wine as if it was a broad acre crop. There wasn't a ... what would you call it? Something to aim for even. Apart from a few producers, Forest Hills Riesling has been that sort of style and what have you since before Margaret River. I think Riesling is still what we hang our hat on here. Yeah. You see what I mean? It's almost trying to base themselves on being the Riverina kind of style.

Ben:
Oh, okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
Just grow grapes, irrigate the hell out of them and crush them, get the most extraction out of them, pump that out, fine it and I'm like, "This isn't the region for that."

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
It's a cool climate and it wasn't really ... the people in it weren't acknowledging the potential to grow premium grapes. That's what it felt like. That's what I was trying to tap into when I first started as well. There's really only a small number of people actually trying to make fine wine out of this region.

Ben:
Expressive wines, like Express Winemakers. Yeah, cool. No, that makes sense. I've seen it before where it's like, okay, the cattle's in there, we hay in there, we've got canola in that one and that's where we do the grapes.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. Cool. How many different wines are you making?

Ryan O'Meara:
I don't know. I'm trying not to make too many, but I had the same problem we were referring to before where you're like, "Well that needs to be separate to that." Yeah, no, I try to keep it to maybe less than a dozen.

Ben:
Oh, that's good.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, that's try. Usually it drifts a little bit over that, but some of them are one year wonders. The distributors love that.

Ben:
I know, it's hard. And your label designers.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
You've got, you do Riesling, Shiraz, you're doing skin ferment, so orange wines.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Petillant, which at the start you were calling Cheninade.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. That's made a re-return this year.

Ben:
Right, retro look.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, it's come back in large format.

Ben:
Nice.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, Cheninade, it's a Pet Nat made from Chenin. The first year we got it, I think I must have been looking for some Sémillon or something for a blend and then, "I haven't got Sémillon but I've got Chenin," someone said. I thought, oh, when life gives you Chenin, make Cheninade, that was the slogan.

Ben:
What inspired that?

Ryan O'Meara:
I was trying to work out ... I just knew there must be an easier way to make sparkling wine than making [inaudible 00:28:54].

Ben:
Riddling, disgorging, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
It was literally from that. I was just like, there's got to be. Then I was just like, "Why don't people just do it like that?" I'd worked at Little Creatures making the bottle conditioned pale ale as well, so I was like, oh, you can just do that. We did it and the first one tasted a little bit like lightly sparkling sherry in 2013 and then, yeah, quickly got the hang of it and then worked out how much sugar to leave. There's a fair few different ways you can do it now, but none of them are less risky than the other.

Ben:
No.

Ryan O'Meara:
I started getting phone calls from people, from larger wineries going, "How do you do that?" And, "Can you do it for us?"

Ben:
Yeah, I've had a few of those too. Yeah, it's interesting. I guess we were doing it around the same time. There was no recipe for it. Pet Nat wasn't even coined, I don't think, as a term by that stage.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
We were looking up the EU rules for Petillant and what it meant, so the first year we had a Chenin, which was fermenting away. We worked out from the old calculations you do when you do sparkling, you have pressure versus sugar and dissolve carbon dioxide. I was like, "It's going to be two atmospheres, not four according to EU rules," so then we need half the amount of sugar. You get the tests done on the juices as it's fermenting and you're like, "Oh, we've missed it," it's too dry. We pitched some Shiraz juice, bottled it and it went ... we loved it, we thought it was great, but it was super mousey, like anything with these wines, because of the oxygen that's in it and what not. Lots of tartrates and lots of mud. We ended up throwing it out. I kept a couple of bottles, I still must have them somewhere.

Ryan O'Meara:
I'd like to sample one of those.

Ben:
Because the mousiness leaves after three months once the redox potential goes back the other way. That was a bit of a pity. Then we started freezing juice, because we couldn't keep up with bottling that much that quick with hand cappers.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, watching the clock the whole time and then you're checking the sugar levels and they're going down and you're like, "Shit, how do we keep this somewhat consistent?"

Ben:
Yeah. And to keep less crystals in there which cause more foaming and what not.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
We worked out if we could get it through ferment and malo as well, especially in barrel, it'll shed a lot of the crystals in barrel, mousiness wouldn't be a concern and then we'd pitch the juice back in and get it going again.

Ryan O'Meara:
Magic. Yeah, no, I haven't gone down the path ... I suppose because it's such a quick thing that happens every year and it's the busiest time, I haven't gotten on top of keeping track of what's actually going on malo wise before bottling those wines. I've checked a bunch after bottling and they're usually through. Yeah. A lot of the time ours tend to come from, have been coming from barrels, so perhaps they've been more tartrate stable, because I haven't had as many problems with ... I mean I definitely get tartrates, but I've never made one that's super explosive like some of the ones that I've seen around, which is a nice problem to have until it happens to me sometime. Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, that's it. I mean we've had ... the tartrates was only the year that we just caught the ferment, straight from tank into bottle. The barrel stuff, yeah, it seems to be pretty good.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
We've got a cap attachment to our bottling line this year, so we're going to be capturing as much as possible.

Ryan O'Meara:
Smashing it.

Ben:
I know.

Ryan O'Meara:
I might be sending some up the highway to you.

Ben:
Yeah, do it, mate. Do it. Come to where it's sunny.

Ryan O'Meara:
It'd be bone dry by the time it gets there.

Ben:
Yeah, that's it. It always is perfect to bottle the day that everything is ready to pick on that other block that's going to take you two days to do or something.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, it's not a great deal of fun, but the end product is.

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's what it's all about.

Ben:
For sure. Cool. Orange wines, what do you make in your-

Ryan O'Meara:
I mainly use Riesling. I've used Sém and Sav as well, but Riesling's the one that I kind of like to draw the flavor from, if that makes sense? It's always the bigger component in the blends, to the extent that, in recent years when I've made a white wine Riesling, a direct press sort of wine, I've hung onto the skins and then chucked them in with a Sauvignon or a Sémillon ferment in the right ratios.

Ben:
Secret ratios.

Ryan O'Meara:
Secret ratios.

Ben:
Those skins are quite aromatic?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. They're bullshit, but they're also, I suppose, a bit phenolic as well. Traditionally Rieslings are ... they fine the bejesus out of them for a reason, because there's a lot of grip there in the skins. Yeah. So much flavor and really unique flavors. It's not like a one blanket, it's not like a Muscat flavor, not only Muscat flavor anyway, different sites have different expressions.

Ben:
Express Winemakers. Yeah, cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
It's been fun playing with that in recent years. To be honest at the moment it's probably my favorite thing to make and my favorite thing to drink. Yeah.

Ben:
Is it all 100% skin ferment gear?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, no, it's not very long. I actually haven't delved too much in the long term skin contact sort of stuff, just because it looks so good after about five or six days, I'm like, "Just press it, get it off." One time I'll eventually become brave enough and leave a small parcel, hopefully this year, on there for a bit longer and see what happens, but I have tried a bunch of the left on longer and it is more a drying kind of character that it gets to it and I'm just trying to make something that's juicy and drink now.

Ben:
Crunchy and fun, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. I need to whip out a few of the first skin contact ones that I made to see what becomes of it. I haven't done it for a while.

Ben:
Cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, just really enjoying making and drinking that sort of thing at the moment.

Ben:
What's it called?

Ryan O'Meara:
L'Orange.

Ben:
Nice.

Ryan O'Meara:
It did have a shorter name. Yeah, no, it was Orange and Orange, the region in Australia, weren't too happy about that. Yeah, they wrote me a strongly worded letter via Wine Australia.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
I received that letter and made the appropriate changes with the letter L.

Ben:
Sure. We also made appropriate changes to ours.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I've seen yours. Yeah. It's good. It's nice to see we're all acknowledging there are the laws in place and the GIs and all the rest.

Ben:
Exactly.

Ryan O'Meara:
All the colors.

Ben:
Yeah. For those that ... I guess I should explain it. For those that don't know there's a wine region in New South Wales called Orange, so just like they can't call their wines Margaret River, we can't call our wines Orange, because it's a recognized region. It's just unfortunate it's also a color and a fruit, but that's the way it goes. Ours was called Orange too, that was oversight.

Ryan O'Meara:
Orange Two?

Ben:
No.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh, Orange as well.

Ben:
Orange as well. Orange Two, Electric Boogaloo.

Ryan O'Meara:
I was like, damn, I was going to use that one.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. Orange Three. But now we've, yeah, corrected that, based on advice from Wine Australia as well. It's now called Orange in color. You can also call it Orange in hue apparently, according to the document.

Ryan O'Meara:
It might be like Hughie's Orange Dreams will be my next-

Ben:
Right. Ryan's Chocolate Orange.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's it. I'm glad we're not live right now and that you've got the ability to edit anything.

Ben:
I'm editing nothing. Funny. All right. Are you closest to the beer there? Just near that screwdriver, tape measure.

Ryan O'Meara:
Saw.

Ben:
Saw.

Ryan O'Meara:
These go well. Lucky we're really close to Newtown.

Ben:
I know. We're drinking Newtowners like a cool cat.

Ryan O'Meara:
They're just really tasty.

Ben:
Yeah. I've got no fingernails left. Your vineyards you're running ... that's a great sound. That sounded really good.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Well done, Martin.

Ben:
You're driving, you're running them all yourself, spraying them all yourself?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, me and a couple of young guys working for me.

Ben:
Cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
They're both part time, they're both great. Yeah. They're both so much smarter than I am, so I feel like I'm always trying to justify telling these guys what to do. One's a software engineer and the other one, he could be anything really if he wanted to. He's just really a guru at growing things, essentially.

Ben:
Wow.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, they're great people to have working for me, but they could be earning a lot more working for someone else. I won't tell them to listen to this.

Ben:
If you were to leave your door here in Denmark and go to the front gate of every vineyard and return home, how long would that take?

Ryan O'Meara:
I'm glad I've never done that. I've gone close. I've gone maybe four or five. It'd be a whole day. It'd be dawn until dusk at least.

Ben:
Right. Without getting out of the car?

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh.

Ben:
Just if you got to the gate, tapped the gate.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh yeah, no, no, you'd get home before dusk if you didn't get out of the car.

Ben:
12 hours or something?

Ryan O'Meara:
I don't know. Denmark to Frankland River. Oh, I don't run into Frankland River, but we did spray someone's vineyard in Frankland River this year because I get a lot of fruit from them which I quite like and he hadn't put any sprays on. Despite not running that vineyard-

Ben:
You were spraying it. Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
At times I'm like, "Please do it." I suppose just going to the vineyards that I actually run it'd be ... it's 45 minutes to Mount Barker and then you can hit three up in Mount Barker. Then up over to Porongurups is probably another 25 minutes. There's two up there and then back to Denmark. No, it'd be a few hours. Yeah. I almost did that the other day. We've only got one functioning spray unit at the moment and one functioning tractor, so we ... I've got a truck, sorry-

Ben:
What tractor's functioning?

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh, it used to belong to Ben Gould of Blind Corner Wines.

Ben:
The red Samay?

Ryan O'Meara:
It's beautiful. I love that thing.

Ben:
I like that photo you sent me of it driving up the ramp the other day being held up by rocks.

Ryan O'Meara:
I was not driving at the time. I had to keep a very cool head. The young fellow driving it was doing everything that he could to get it back on the ramps, but we ended up calling a tow truck driver and he was a guru at getting it back on the truck somehow. That's why I've got two cases of wine in, the guy lives across the road.

Ben:
Right. From here?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
He got in the tractor and drove it, so what happened is the tractor travels from vineyard to vineyard on the back of a truck, a flatbed truck and then you drive it down a set of ramps-

Ryan O'Meara:
A $3500 flatbed truck at that.

Ben:
Oh, hello. You got that in Albany, was that ... oh no, that was the one-

Ryan O'Meara:
No, it is in Albany. It's got Albany, what is it? Insulation. Albany Insulation.

Ben:
Thank you Albany Insulation for all your insulation needs. You were driving down the ramps to get it off at a site and the front tire slipped off the ramp?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. He was trying to center it, I think he was trying to center it. I wasn't driving, remember?

Ben:
That's right. As you were driving this, Ryan-

Ryan O'Meara:
I think turning the wheel as the ramps were going, the front wheels were on the ramps and then all of a sudden the chassis on the ramps and the wheels were suspended in mid air. It's a predicament that you don't want to find yourself in. We tried a few things and I can't believe the young guy working for me was jumping back in the tractor while it's hanging over the edge of a truck.

Ben:
But you had it supported by rocks under the front?

Ryan O'Meara:
That was just us trying to get some traction on the wheels.

Ben:
Sure. What did the tow truck driver do?

Ryan O'Meara:
He worked his magic with the tow truck, with the lift, the tilt tray, got underneath the chassis there. We ended up driving it onto the tow truck and then driving, reversing it back onto the truck.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I thought we were really up shit creek. We were pretty close to just going, "All right, Dan, you hop in the tractor, I'll hop in the truck and we just drive as fast as we can in opposite directions."

Ben:
Oh jeez. Who was in the tractor? You were going to be in the tractor?

Ryan O'Meara:
No, I was going to be in the truck.

Ben:
Looking after your workers there. That's great. Right. I interrupted, this wonderful Samay working tractor, whatever you call it, was in top condition at a cheap price.

Ryan O'Meara:
The ground's quite soft, it would have bounced.

Ben:
How many spray units and tractors are you running? Two of each?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Two tractors, one I leave on site at the winery vineyard and the other one just does the rounds. Spray unit, we've got, we're just kind of borrowing one at the moment. Mine's out of action with a hydraulic pump issue and then another one which we were running has got a gearbox issue. Yeah. We're just really strapped for equipment. The truck is the one consistent thing. It leaks oil like a sieve, but just top it up every now and again and it just gets to the next site and then you just live to see another day, you put another spray on and, yeah, you're away. That buys you about a week or so in time and then you have to do it all again. This time of year, we haven't really experienced it quite as intensely before. Yeah.

Ben:
Six vineyards.

Ryan O'Meara:
Two of them we spray by foot. Hand, foot. We've got a backpack spray. One's one acre and one's one hectare.

Ben:
Oh, that's the Riesling in Porongurup?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. There's a little vineyard in the Porongurups that's looking great at the moment actually.

Ben:
Cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
We've put some lime on this year as well as some guano and a few other trace elements and stuff. That combined with a wetter year, it's looking pretty fantastic.

Ben:
Do you get weevil issues down here?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, we are now, yeah.

Ben:
Right.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's up there, actually I've done a few moonlight sprays up there with some of-

Ben:
[Buf 00:44:10]'s stuff?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, Buf's magic chemicals. I haven't done one this year actually. I was going to do one ... Sunday's full moon I was going to be up there, but I haven't run that past the missus yet.

Ben:
Oh right, yes. You're the father of a new child.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Nighttime sprays aren't appreciated that much. I mean I don't really like doing it that much anyway, so I don't really mind, but trying to get on top of the weevils with these Chinese herbal sprays.

Ben:
The [matrix 00:44:40] and the [softer 00:44:40].

Ryan O'Meara:
The matrix and the softer. It was hard to see a direct impact last year in putting it on, but I've heard of at least and seen results that other people are getting. It's important, I suppose, while the vines are young and there's lots of green shoots and they're not strong enough. The vines, actually every year, every subsequent year they've gotten stronger anyway, so they've become less susceptible, I feel, to weevils.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
Unless I talk to you in another month's time and I'm like, "Yeah, it was just a matter of time."

Ben:
We thought we killed it this year. It's been a fairly wet year, start to the season anyway, lots of moisture in the ground. We still have green cover between the vines, which is starting to brown off now. All the vines got away early and strong and we're like, "Oh, we killed it. Look at us go." High fives everywhere. Then, yeah, just in the last couple of weeks we've-

Ryan O'Meara:
Gone hard.

Ben:
Yeah, we're squashing by hand. I mean we've used Dyson vacuum, handheld vacuum cleaners.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I've seen what you've done.

Ben:
That works quite well. We've done matrix softer, there's some also organic yeast strains that's been isolated ... you'd like this, have I told you about this? It's been isolated from the mescal plant, which is a major ingredient in margaritas. There's this yeast, three yeasts actually that grow on the back of this beetle that eats the margarita cactus or whatever. It's not called cactus, it's called something else, agave.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ben:
It eats it from the inside out. They've isolated it in the certified organic way and prepared correctly, yeah, we've had success with that as well.

Ryan O'Meara:
Okay.

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
How does the matrix and softer go? Unknown?

Ben:
Yeah, it's unknown. It's a tonic for ... it's like a leaf tonic that has the other effect of ... it strengthens the leaves, which does help against weevils, but then it gives weevils, I think-

Ryan O'Meara:
Belly ache?

Ben:
Belly ache and numb jaws or something like that.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
They go off the boil.

Ryan O'Meara:
Do your established vines still suffer from weevil damage?

Ben:
This is the thing. We've been doing restructuring. We've got quite an old ... not that old, but 20 something year old vineyard, so we have some very established vines and we're at the point where we have to restructure some of the spur prune blocks. We have only had this vineyard for four years, but we've restructured ... there's 20 hectares, we've restructured one, two, three, four, five, six, probably five hectares and then another two hectares we've grafted. We've got a block of Shiraz, which is dry grown and is right next to an irrigated block of Merlot that's been grafted. The Merlot's being hammered, every vine. You can step two meters away and this whole block, you can't find a weevil in it.

Ryan O'Meara:
Maybe they've got alternatives, younger softer alternatives.

Ben:
I think so, yeah. Obviously those, the vines that we're restructuring, the vines that we're grafting, they're sorting out their plumbing and they're in shock, because where they used to send the sap and everything is gone, so they're not getting, they're just trying to ... their immune systems are compromised because the roots might be pulling up all their starch reserves to push out, but now they've got to build new pipes as opposed to just going into the old channels and whatnot.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. So they've been getting a bit hammered?

Ben:
Hammered, yeah. Hammered.

Ryan O'Meara:
Bummer.

Ben:
I know, but we had a win.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Squash them by hand, that's what we're doing now.

Ryan O'Meara:
The vacuum cleaner's come back out again.

Ben:
Yeah, true.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I've just probably turned a bit of a ... I've other things to do, I suppose, that distracted me from night sprays, but I hope, yeah, that it's not just the fact that I'm ignoring it that it looks better. The other thing I was going to talk to you about, with those ... because this time of year I'm usually, or everyone's usually de-suckering the trucks of the vines, I get so caught in two minds when I see all the weevil damage in those suckers. I'm just like, "I'm just going to leave them there, weevils can have that and I'm just going to walk past it." Then it's saving me working and potentially saves some growth that's further up the trunk.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
What's your take on that?

Ben:
Definitely leave it, even as an indicator. I mean they used to put-

Ryan O'Meara:
Then you just tackle it when it comes to pruning the following year, or later in the season?

Ben:
Or later in the season, yeah. That's right. When you're pruning you can do it. A bit like the roses, the old idea of the rose at the end of the row for powdery, but we've sorted that problem out now, so now they just look pretty.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
When you leave it there to indicate when they're on the move-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah, that'd be particular important with you guys if you're actually actively tackling these things. I'm not sure if they're worse where you guys are, I think it's definitely gotten a lot worse down here over the recent years. I suppose most of the vineyards I look after I haven't done, I haven't been grafting or reestablishing, so they kind of feel like they're in a bit of a safety pattern.

Ben:
Yeah, okay. We still leave the suckers on everywhere.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Across the whole block, just as an indicator and we just do it later.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
It doesn't really take that much longer to do it, or if your contracting costs that much more to do it. What that does allow you to do is you know where they are. If you were to want to do a night spray, you're not spraying an entire canopy of vines, you're just hitting each trunk.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
You can get through it a lot quicker and earlier in the season.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I meant to do it earlier this season.

Ben:
We're all meant to do lots of things. Yeah, if you turn your back for a sec. It really feels like in two weeks we went from paradise to-

Ryan O'Meara:
What's going on?

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
All right.

Ben:
Weevils. Good times.

Ryan O'Meara:
Fun, yeah, no.

Ben:
It must be all the rain down here that keeps them-

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh no, it's you dirty Margaret River people coming down here.

Ben:
We never got the pass to get through when the regions were locked. Maybe you brought them up, or brought them back with you.

Ryan O'Meara:
I think they've been around a bit longer than region borders.

Ben:
Yeah, I think so. I was putting-

Ryan O'Meara:
They say they don't get them over east at all yet.

Ben:
No. I think they exist but nothing like what we get here. Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Is that just introduction from all the South African stuff over here?

Ben:
I think they're native to South Africa, were they?

Ryan O'Meara:
That's what I've heard.

Ben:
Yeah, I'm not too sure. I don't want to be caught in a racist battle.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, that's it. Let's divert.

Ben:
We'll check that later and get back to everyone. Yeah. Then I think, because it is a problem here more than anywhere and we're really a blip in the whole Australian scene, I don't think there's much research going into it.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's it. [inaudible 00:51:57], they were top of the research chain.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah. We just keep going, keep squashing.

Ryan O'Meara:
Fun.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly. All right, mate. At the moment we're November, vines are growing. Any changes to the ... so you haven't talked about your wine making yet. A lot of ... everything's well fermented?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. I suppose I just wanted to make my wines as different as possible from the wines that I'd been making for other people in Australia, other companies for however many years. The easiest way to do that, I think, was wild ferment. Then everything, it starts to make sense a lot more. Saves you a lot of money as well.

Ben:
Yeah, 50 bucks a pack now or something?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah, it's just funny. Everything's kind of so connected in the sense that, once you stop doing one thing, you can stop doing this, stop doing that other thing that you were doing. You just realize that you're not paying all this money to these chemical companies and it's pretty easy going. I mean I've had the same or probably less stuck ferments from wild yeast than I have with packet yeast anyway. That's a lot of people's fear, perhaps.

Ben:
Yeah, I'd have to say the same. Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
It does happen and then you just stick the barrels outside in the spring time and hopefully they get through. I've got a few that need sticking outside this year, but they're kind of not at that level where it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's a manageable level and I've done it before and it works.

Ben:
Gets through.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I don't know. It's a fear thing that stops a lot of other wine makers taking the plunge and just not using things.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
I don't know if that's what ... sorry, that's my dog. Where is she?

Ben:
I think there's some kangaroos outside.

Ryan O'Meara:
Okay.

Ben:
She'll be all right. Yeah, it is an interesting one with the whole yeast thing. What's up?

Ryan O'Meara:
Sit.

Ben:
The stuck ferments we've had have been our own fault. We're going, okay, if we air dry this and the sugar concentration gets to 17% potentially alcohol you are going to get some stuck ferments. You don't test it or check it enough, or watch it and that's when the issues come in. What's your dog's name again?

Ryan O'Meara:
Frankie.

Ben:
Frankie. Frankie is excited about kangaroos.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. She's seen plenty before, but she'll calm down soon enough.

Ben:
No acid additions?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no acid additions. I think the first year, maybe I did in 2011, I'm not sure, I can't recall. Quickly just threw that out. Yeah, no, it's quite liberating doing all that. It feels like you're actually ... then combine that with taking care of the vineyards, it feels like you're actually doing something, rather than in the past, perhaps working for other companies, you're just kind of making this formula for this product that will-

Ben:
How does that compare to beer when you're buying in the grain and buying in the hops?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, good question. I have addressed this before, but it was a while ago.

Ben:
I only just thought of that.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
It must be like vintage every day as well in a brewery.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, that's what you always said. I think there's other former wine makers in my brewing team. Yeah. It is different, but vintage every day, the product is a lot more homogenized, you're getting these malts from the malt house.

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, then the hops, everything's a lot more calculated, I suppose.

Ben:
Sure.

Ryan O'Meara:
In that way it's even more extreme in that sort of thing, but you're not trying to correct anything.

Ben:
You mean with the brewery?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. When you've got ... most wineries I've worked in you get the analysis and you're like, "All right, this is shy of what we want, this is shy of what we want, we're going to correct it here and there."

Ben:
Correct the pH of this by adding tartaric?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Put the tannin in to get the color?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, I mean I did that for years and then didn't think anything of it and then, once I stopped doing it, you get these wines and they've just got so much more life and vitality to them. The numbers might be out by a little bit-

Ben:
But they're only out based on what you were taught-

Ryan O'Meara:
Exactly, exactly.

Ben:
... at university as well.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
I guess university is so much more about looking forward than it is looking backwards.

Ryan O'Meara:
Commercial, making sure everyone's employed.

Ben:
Yeah, it's that as well. Of course a lot of the research comes out of there. You've got ... if there's a new product, whether it's a cross flow filter or a new tannin or whatever it might be, they'll be tested and introduced into the curriculum, because universities are where the new stuff happens.

Ryan O'Meara:
A lot of things that I was taught at university, they're great or what have you, but there for a purpose so that you can work in a large commercial winery and produce wine and sell wine and stuff.

Ben:
Do you think by learning the rules though you-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, I know where you're going.

Ben:
... helped to bend them a little bit better? You know that, okay, sure, the pH might not be great, but it's not completely out of the spectrum where things are going to go horribly wrong?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. I'd hate to not have any education in wine making at all. Some people who don't, they do a fantastic job without it, but I think I needed that at least. I think I've pretty much finished with it in a lot of ways. I feel like I've learned-

Ben:
You've peaked?

Ryan O'Meara:
I've peaked. I'm going downhill. Everything that I learned at university anyway, you know what I mean. Yeah. Most things now I've sort of taught myself in a way, usually inspired by somebody or having done something similar in the past and then you just kind of learn from your own mistakes. They can be pretty costly, but hopefully you minimize that and you just keep winging it.

Ben:
It's true. I think what I've found is it's quite liberating ... this is going to sound counterintuitive, but it's quite liberating to put restrictions on yourself. To restrict yourself from saying, "Okay, I'm not going to use packet yeast, I'm not going to correct the acid," and giving yourself those restrictions just opens up creativity.

Ryan O'Meara:
Other doors, yeah.

Ben:
It's like, how do I fix this then? I've made this rule now, this is something I haven't thought of before, how about we do this? You end up coming up with things you might not have tried before, like-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, that's awesome how that works like that. I hadn't thought of it that way. I've thought of it that way in the vineyard a few times where you put restrictions on yourself. Because I'm not certified organic there's no reason why I can't do any of these things, but I like to be really hard on myself because once you start letting things slips-

Ben:
Slippery slope, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
You just can do anything you want. I'd be really hard and it does make you think outside of the box and do things a little differently in the vineyard. Yeah, the winery's exactly the same. You kind of ... yeah, it's amazing. All right, if I pick this parcel earlier you get this amazing natural acid from that and that can be a great blending tool, or just do a few passes when you're picking to build different flavors in the profile. Yeah, no, I've never thought of it like that before, but it does make you become, force you to become more creative.

Ben:
Yeah. I know there's a saying there. I'm trying to think of it, but it's something about something is the mother of invention.

Ryan O'Meara:
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.

Ben:
What?

Ryan O'Meara:
You know the-

Ben:
Yeah, no. Anyway.

Ryan O'Meara:
The Mothers of Invention. What is it?

Ben:
I'm sure everyone's riveted now to our-

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, let's Google that shit.

Ben:
Too many Newtowners. What's next for-

Ryan O'Meara:
Necessity.

Ben:
Is it necessity?

Ryan O'Meara:
Maybe.

Ben:
Oh, okay. So that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Necessity?

Ryan O'Meara:
You still need to do shit.

Ben:
Yeah. All right.

Ryan O'Meara:
The editor is coming in hard after this.

Ben:
Yeah. No, I think we're doing all right, I might just let it run. Express Winemakers, what's new? What's next? Have you got an end goal?

Ryan O'Meara:
An end goal? Yeah, well the last week was the first time I've actually rung real estate agents and gone on tours of places to try and find something, some digs where I can set down some roots. Nothing's too forthcoming, but that first go, meeting some other people tomorrow, which I'll talk to you about.

Ben:
Oh right. Is this existing places, or-

Ryan O'Meara:
No, no, no, they're all fresh country.

Ben:
Virgin land.

Ryan O'Meara:
Virgin land, which has had thousands of cattle on it.

Ben:
Cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. No, that's good. I mean I'm interested in doing something slightly different to what's perhaps been done down here before.

Ben:
In way of-

Ryan O'Meara:
In areas of the land, I don't know, I'm probably going to-

Ben:
Wasn't there a plan ... if you don't want to answer this, you don't have to, but were you looking at a wine bar?

Ryan O'Meara:
Down here?

Ben:
Yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh yeah, that was pretty short lived.

Ben:
Okay.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no. Yeah. Us and another bunch of awesome people down here, we were thinking about that, but then I had a baby again, another one and it was ... yeah.

Ben:
Between that and the night spraying?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I was just like, wow, when did I think I was going to ever tend this bar? In hindsight, it's been a beautiful blessing going, "Thank God I didn't do that because I'm struggling to stay awake as is." No. I could build that into the other future plans with vineyards and stuff I think.

Ben:
Get your own place, plant a vineyard, move your winery there?

Ryan O'Meara:
Definitely. Definitely the winery would go along with.

Ben:
Yeah. Cellar dollar, some chickens?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, geese. Geese are the future.

Ben:
Yeah. Well the geese will get rid of all the weevils.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. One of the guys who works for me is a bit of a goose shepherd.

Ben:
Really?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Do they have a name?

Ryan O'Meara:
I just call him Mr. Goose Shepherd.

Ben:
Call him Mr. Gosling. Ryan and the goslings.

Ryan O'Meara:
That's it. Yeah, no, the whole drive home, because we do a lot of carpooling, we were talking about gizzards, the gizzards of different poultry.

Ben:
Oh yeah?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, Jesus, he's a wealth of information.

Ben:
Right. Gizzards aren't foie gras, is that liver?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, I don't know how gizzards play in with it.

Ben:
What was ... tell me about gizzards.

Ryan O'Meara:
Well no, he was just saying how these geese are eating rocks essentially and that their bodies were using it to help build the gizzards which can process all sorts of grasses and whatnot and seeds.

Ben:
Wow that is cool. I should go carpooling with you. This sounds amazing.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, mate, I enjoy my carpools.

Ben:
We should start a podcast called real gizzard people.

Ryan O'Meara:
King Gizzard and the something something.

Ben:
Nice. Okay. That's the future at the moment?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, geese and, yeah, land. Land would be nice. We really don't want to move from Ocean Bay, because I've told you before, it's a lovely place. You probably also realize that the soil is nothing but beach sand.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. Dirty beach sand, it's like black beach sand.

Ryan O'Meara:
I'm looking at this lovely gray beach sand.

Ben:
Oh, sorry, gray, yeah.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Then I was viewing this very basic internet research and I was like, oh, in Colares in Portugal they grow these vines in beach sand only meters from the ocean that they've got. They just put these bamboo stakes all around which act as a wind break and the vines grow in a snake like pattern on the ground and then they put a little bamboo stake, which suspends the fruit.

Ben:
Oh, that's a bit of hard work.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. Then I thought about it for longer than three seconds.

Ben:
Oh, cool.

Ryan O'Meara:
But it would be very nice to have some property that backs onto Back Beach and have a four wheel drive and just be able to go surfing down there-

Ben:
That's true.

Ryan O'Meara:
... whenever you want.

Ben:
[inaudible 01:05:37].

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Oh cool, okay. Anything else you want to ... gosh, we've done over an hour.

Ryan O'Meara:
Have we?

Ben:
Look at us go.

Ryan O'Meara:
What is the time?

Ben:
That's only two beers, that's got to be a record for us, hasn't it?

Ryan O'Meara:
That's probably good, for the best.

Ben:
All right. People can find you, ExpressWinemakers.com and all the Insta handles. To explain the inside margarita joke, how did that start? Was it at that wine show?

Ryan O'Meara:
The one at the treasury buildings, yeah.

Ben:
At the state buildings.

Ryan O'Meara:
It basically boils down to Mike Benny.

Ben:
Right, right. That's right. We finished that gig and then I bought us some margaritas at the bar and then that, by default, became our drink for the night.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh yeah, that was our drink of the night. Yeah. I was well primed already.

Ben:
Yeah. Then you had a series of unfortunate incidents. I phantomed and went to bed like a grown up.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, bastard. I was asleep not even on the side of the road, pretty much on the road.

Ben:
On the road.

Ryan O'Meara:
And had people drag me off the road. People who we were drinking with, but ...

Ben:
Ever since then I've tried to find out where you're going to be and when you're in the trade and I call ahead and get a margarita served to you.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. It's been very effective. Very effective. I think you've crossed state boundaries with it actually. There's been times where I've been ... maybe not interstate, but definitely regional. I've definitely been in Perth and then you've been up nowhere near me and I've had a margarita served to me courtesy of Ben Gould. Then there was the time that last Christmas we were staying at Crown in Perth for a couple of days for someone's birthday and we were sitting by the pool with the kids and had a margarita rock up by the waitress. I was a bit dumbfounded like, wow, he has really done his research. I was just thinking along those sorts of lines and then I actually realized that it was purely I'd ordered a Margherita pizza.

Ben:
Oh, and they delivered you the cocktail?

Ryan O'Meara:
They'd delivered me a cocktail, but I was thinking-

Ben:
Your reputation precedes you.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I was just thinking Ben has just really done his groundwork here, he has got me.

Ben:
I'm happy to buy Ryan a margarita anywhere in Australia. If anyone wants to buy it, if they see him out, I will reimburse you.

Ryan O'Meara:
Oh Jesus. Jesus this is never going to end.

Ben:
I can see it. Maybe it can become a hashtag or something. Oh, well it's good to catch up. Anything else you need to add? Anything new coming out? You've got gigs coming up, or-

Ryan O'Meara:
No, nothing, as little as possible.

Ben:
Borders still shut.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, it's been delightfully relaxing.

Ben:
Might be up our way before Chrissy?

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, no, it'd be nice to get up there. I was talking about coming up for the wine fair at Joe's.

Ben:
At Joe's?

Ryan O'Meara:
At Joe's place.

Ben:
In [inaudible 01:08:40].

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. That would be nice.

Ben:
Cool. Come and see the new shed.

Ryan O'Meara:
No, I'm keen to see that, try your mind fuck Chenin.

Ben:
Oh yeah, well I'm not sure what we're going to do yet.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I swear there's something else we're supposed to be talking about. No. It's been better doing it here, despite these strange surrounds, to out there.

Ben:
It's sort of industrial. I mean the last one was a super hot day and dusty when we drove out there.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah. I mean I'm less tired now than I was then. It was a summer's day and I had done nothing all morning, but was exhausted. Today I've been up since 4:50 slashing and blending wines and still right as rain.

Ben:
Good on you, mate. Well good to see you. We'll sign off on that.

Ryan O'Meara:
Yeah.

Ben:
Have a couple of beers and-

Ryan O'Meara:
Sounds good. All right. Thanks very much for your time and, yeah, it's been good.

Ben:
All right. Thanks everyone. Catch you.

Ben:
Thank you very much. I hope you enjoyed that chat with Ryan O'Meara of Express Winemakers. I wish everyone a very happy new year and I'm hoping ... I don't know when, but we shall have another episode out soon and we will let you know through Instagram, et cetera. Stay well. Cheers. Bye.

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