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Tom Shobbrook - #008

Tom Shobbrook is a beautiful human, boundary-pusher, winemaker, father, husband and owner of Shobbrook wines. As one part of the 'Natural Selection Theory' collective, he is partly responsible for a paradigm shift in the Australian Wine industry. 

Shobbrook Wines

@tomshobbrook

ADELAIDE HILLS DONATION PAGES:
https://mailchi.mp/e983969e669f/ahwr-member-update-3088465?e=30358e9383

https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/news/media-releases/news/new-bushfire-relief-fund-established,-people-urged-to-donate

  

LINKS

Hellbound
Reggie
Fruit Zone
Rootstock
Soul for wine
Crown and Anchor
Bright moments
Anton
Sam Hughes
Vaucluse Cellars
Deep Woods
James Erskine
Working with Wine
Negs (Negociants)
KT Kerry Thompson
Louis Schofield
Radikon
Egg project
Feather and Bone
Phil Sedgman
Flaxman Valley
Leederville Aquifier
1956 Series 
1969 Renault 4
1972 Fiat 500
Wrecking Yard
Owen Latta

Tom:
I really love all that. There was someone trying our new Poolside the other day, and she came running back up to me, she was like, "I was just in the toilet having a wee and there was two girls sitting in the toilet and one of them was like, 'Man, I could fucking drink Poolside forever.'" It's nice to have a journalist write something nice about your wines, but it's so nice that a young woman in a bathroom having a pee, that comment means so much more.

Ben:
Because it was so real.

Tom:
Because it was so real. It was like someone drinking, and just loved it and that's [inaudible 00:00:29].

Ben:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today finds me in Adelaide, where I was hiding under the stairs at the Hellbound Wine Bar. Big thanks to Reggie and Louie for letting me come in before service. We sat under the stairs on a couch and I chatted with Tom Shobbrook of Shobbrook Wines, who's also one part of the National Selection Theory. As you'll learn, this little collective did really help usher in the modern of natural wine in Australia. Tom is a great guy. We speak about a lot of different subjects today, about where he's from and where he's going now, and his new plot of land where there's things being grown up in the Flaxton Valley.

Ben:
Also, when I was in Adelaide for this trip I did head up to the hills. This was before those fires did rip through. For those that don't know, a third of all Adelaide hills plantings were within the fire zone and there's some horror stories coming out of there. If you do want to help, I'll put a link in the show notes at realwinepeople.com, so that you can donate to wineries and others in need. Happy new year to everyone. I hope 2019's been good to you, and here's to a ripper 2020. And I do hope you enjoy this episode with Tom. Cheers.

Tom:
I'm going to get the deepness too.

Ben:
[inaudible 00:02:02].

Tom:
Down low.

Ben:
You're going to sound like [inaudible 00:02:06]. I was thinking of doing one with the Fruit Zone, where we just have them as the 60 Minutes informer. I thought that'd be pretty funny.

Tom:
That's be gold.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
That's so good. That's great.

Ben:
I mean, the idea with this, we're in Western Australia, we only ever used to see people when we're all together at Rootstock.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
And-

Tom:
And we don't have that anymore, we don't have Rootstock so we don't have that ... And that's been a massive part of the growth of small families making wines, was Rootstock.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Getting together and seeing each other once a year for a big catch-up.

Ben:
That's right, yeah.

Tom:
And families could catch up. You'd see that someone had slept with someone else and they had new kids, the family was growing. That part of Rootstock was beautiful to see. You spend half the morning giving everyone hugs, and then you spend the rest of the two days hugging and pouring wine out.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And that was gorgeous. That was such a beautiful part of what Rootstock was, and I think Rootstock got to a point that it'd outgrown what it set out to do.

Ben:
I think so, yeah.

Tom:
And I think now there's more exciting things coming in time. So, we've got Soulful Wine, which is an amazing event down in Melbourne, and there's all these other small events around Australia opening up where maybe we're not all getting together but there's producers doing different events. And so we are slowly catching up together again, and there will be a big event where we'll get back together, I'm sure.

Ben:
Oh, that's good. Are you planning one?

Tom:
I've always wanted to do something like Rootstock in Adelaide. It's a bit like if you build it, they will come. There's guys up at the Crown and Anchor and they do Brilliant Moments.

Ben:
Right. I don't know that one.

Tom:
A great little tasting of ... It's just fun. It's just getting people into drink and into have fun, and into share their journey with consumers and that's what it is. I think the way that tastings are done is changing. I think we-

Ben:
I think you're probably responsible for a lot of that, even with your hot pants.

Tom:
Yeah. Yeah. We did it in the old days. That was just fun and games. And it was fun. You talk to guys that have done heaps of marketing and they're like, "You guys were just doing that for a laugh." We were, but when we started in 2007 selling wines, probably, it was a stagnant, boring market. It was a shirt and suit and a tie, and there was no way Anton and I were going to do that in the market.

Ben:
No.

Tom:
And Anton, he'd come out of the Ritz Carlton. He'd done proper service and dressed fancy and had fancy shoes, but that's not what people wanted in 2007, 2008, the global recession starting. People just wanted fun. They wanted a relief, they wanted to break and escape from the world. So, I was like, "Jump in the Land Rover, come round the block with us, listen to some records, drink some wines, we'll kick you out, when we get back here and you can go back to service." We were pulling people off the floor to come and do tastings with us, in the car. Do a block in, they'd buy a couple of cases and off they went.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
That was fun. We had a lot of fun showing people different things and bringing them into our world, taking them out of the restaurants and out of their stores and giving them a reason to have fun again with wine.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
I don't know. I hadn't been in Australia for very long, from 2000 to 2007 I wasn't here. So, when we started back I didn't know anybody, didn't know the scene, I didn't know what people thought about wine or what they'd be doing in wine, or how they'd been buying wine or why they bought it, or who they bought it from or why they drank it. So, when I came back we just wanted to have fun. And we had some really boring tastings. We would go together or James would come or Sam would be there, and we'd just chat to each other.

Ben:
Sure. That was mostly Adelaide?

Tom:
In Adelaide, we'd do two days and we'd sell a mixed six-pack.

Ben:
Yeah, right.

Tom:
When you're really busy on the farm and you spend two days in the trade and you sell a mixed six-pack, it's really hard. So, we would go to Sydney. We'd jump in the car, we'd do Adelaide, drive to Melbourne. We'd catch fish along the way and we'd collect seaweed and different berries and fruits that we'd find around the place.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
[Mung 00:06:25] trees and stuff like that. We'd go to Melbourne and we'd cook for people, and people would come and see what's going on and we'd go and see their restaurants and their bottle shops. Then we would go up to Sydney and do the same, and drive up to Brisbane and do the same. Then we'd come back to Sydney and drop Sammy off and drive home. And that was five or six weeks, and that was beautiful, it was great fun. One time we spilled fish sauce in the car, so for two weeks until we found the laundromat we smelt like fish sauce everywhere we went. It was everywhere, through our clothes and our bedding and everything.

Ben:
Oh wow.

Tom:
But it was big days. You'd leave Melbourne at midnight after your last tasting, and you'd be in Sydney at 10:00 the next morning ready to serve.

Ben:
Rock and roll.

Tom:
And you'd have driven through. So, two people, one person drinks and drives and one person's drinking and talking and other two are sleeping.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Tom:
It was just like-

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
... jumping back and forth. It was great, it was brilliant, it was awesome. I wouldn't swap that for anything. You definitely miss lots of time with your family, but you create a really tight bond between some beautiful friends and that was great. That was some good times. They were fun. And Sammy was great. We plucked him out of this wine shop in-

Ben:
Was that [Clear Point 00:07:35] Liquor?

Tom:
He was at Vaucluse Cellars.

Ben:
Oh, that's what it was, Vaucluse Cellars, yes.

Tom:
And he was amazing. Sammy was gorgeous. He would have people come in and see him, and he'd disappear for half a day, downstairs into their cellar with two customers. And he might open $3,000 or $4,000 worth of wine, but then they would put a $30,000 or $40,000 order in.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
He just knew what people wanted to drink and he would take them on a journey and get them excited.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And they were just buying wine for fun, for parties.

Ben:
Jesus.

Tom:
It's just-

Ben:
I'm saving up for a slab of export.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Oh sorry, I'll just put my beer down.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
We better do a bit of an introduction actually.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
So, we're downstairs at Hellbound. I'm with Tom Shobbrook, all-round legend. I cut you off before when you said tastings are ... I'm hoping this conversation is just going to be all over the shop, which is how I love them to be.

Tom:
Yeah, totally, totally.

Ben:
I'll try and in my mind remember things that you've said so that we can go back and talk about them.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
I only met Sam a couple of times.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
I think when he was at Vaucluse Cellars and we were trying to sell him wine with our then rep or wholesaler. It was just the questions he was asking, because at that point I believe I was working with Deep Woods and we were doing conventional farming, conventional wine making, he was like, "Well, why are you doing that, and why are you doing that?" It was pretty interesting. Always a beautiful guy and challenging.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Just really pointed questions.

Tom:
Yeah. He was treating us all like guinea pigs. We were his research projects, all of us, you included. He had time. While he was at the shop he knew how to look after the customers that came in, he knew who to send to drop the wine off.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
He knew what people liked. He knew that if he sent one of the boys off they might not come back for half a day, but the customers, they're having fun.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Had a bottle of wine together, they might pull out a fancy bottle of Burgundy, and the boy would come back and he'd be like, "I've never had anything like that before in my life." How good was it? You meet these people and they cook lunch for you, you put all the wine in the cellar for them and then you come home, and then you get them back in the shop again. And he had time, he had time to research. So, he was looking at all the interesting wines and why we were adding sulfur or why you do this, like why aren't we making wine from grapes, just grapes?

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
So, he was pushing all of us, and pushing the people that were coming into the store to sell him things, but also pushing the ones that were buying things and showing them a new journey.

Ben:
Sure. Was he the catalyst for yourself and Anton and James to get together, the four-

Tom:
Yeah, a hundred percent. Anton and James were good mates when James was over at [Orjay 00:10:22], which is a restaurant over here that was in South Australia, over here by the market in Adelaide, Italian restaurant. And James had just come out of the ... Oh, what's that fancy ... Working with Wine Award that Negociants do every year. So, it's a really great thing where they do sort of like a blind tasting thing and at the end you get to travel the world and go to the producers you want to see.

Ben:
Yeah, right.

Tom:
That's the award. So, Louie Schofield just won it this year. I think it's put on by Negs. I could be wrong with that. So, James had something like that, and Anton and him were friends because he'd seen Anton first release in 2007. Anton's always pretty competitive so, "Oh yeah, James was my friend first." We all became really dear friends, really quite quickly. So, those two are friends, and then Anton and I were on the road together selling wine with KT, Kerry Thompson?

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. He must have worked with her up in Clare, and there's lots of stories about their time together up there.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
But they'd worked together for a bit. And so the three of us were hanging out, and Sammy came on the scene and Kerry wasn't quite sure if she wanted two scruffy boys like me and Anton hanging around in her gig, I don't think. So, yeah, we joined up with Sammy and he really liked us. We were just in his shop one day and he was like, "Where are you guys staying tonight?" "Oh, probably just sleep in the park somewhere." And he's like, "No. Come to my house. I'll cook you dinner and open some wines." And he showed us some amazing stuff and we looked through ... He introduced us, or reintroduced me, and showed Anton for the first time, the wines from [Stonecot 00:12:08] [inaudible 00:12:08] up in [inaudible 00:12:11].

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Tom:
And four different wines and how they evolved, like every sip. Every time you went through them and tasted them, they just kept evolving and evolving and evolving and evolving. And by the time we'd got through a little bit of the wine I'd fallen asleep, and when I'd woken up the Egg Project had started to evolve. So, that's where the Egg Project-

Ben:
Right. And what year would this have been?

Tom:
2010.

Ben:
Okay. Cool. And so were you making wine for yourself at that point under your label?

Tom:
Yeah. We started on our farm, we planted in '98.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
First barrel in '99. 2000 we made a bit, 2001 a bit more, 2002 a bit-

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
We just found a pallet of the 2002 in the shed when we moved last year.

Ben:
Wow. And this is all under Tom Shobbrook?

Tom:
Oh, this was under a generic just family drinking share with friends, sell a bit on the side sort of thing. 2003 we didn't make any and by then I'd moved to Italy.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
So, I was living in Italy. Then I came back at the beginning of 2007, and so we did harvest from then on.

Ben:
Okay.

Tom:
'07 onwards was really the beginning of what we did.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
So, you said Anton's competitive and you said he was 2007 as well?

Ben:
Yeah. So, we started together.

Tom:
Did you pick yours slightly before him?

Ben:
He was Pinot. He was trying to make these huge, huge Pinots. He'd worked in America and he'd worked in New Zealand, and he was trying to make these big bold Pinots.

Tom:
Really?

Ben:
He was picking later.

Tom:
They were totally opposite to what he's doing now.

Ben:
So, you were first. There you go, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. And I'm in the Barossa so we had jam by the end of Christmas anyway. I was still using all of my Italian knowledge, because that's the only way I knew how to pick fruit. And we were trying to ripen Sangiovese, so we were on the cusp of not getting it ripe so we were leaf-thinning and trying to get sunlight in there at the end of August and looking at picking mid to late October. We were always pushing the plants as far as we could, to try and get as much ripen.

Tom:
You could pick and taste the fruit, say, "Oh, that's going to be ready in the next few days. We should probably start picking this week sometime." Whereas here, if you can taste that ripeness, in South Australia, you've already missed the window. For us, on the farm we were in, in Seppeltsfield, we'd already missed that boat. So, we would already end up with high alcohols and less finesse and more of the characters that I don't enjoy with red wine.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
So, over our next journey, for the next, oh God, 14 years, we started picking earlier and earlier and earlier. To the point where we got to Mourvedre and we were picking that at 10% and making these really beautiful wines from it.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
That were a little bit tricky young, but give them time and they are just sublime. Just settle down, balance, leave them in old wooden vats, soften off.

Ben:
This is in Seppeltsfield in Barossa?

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
There was Mourvedre-

Tom:
We had Mourvedre, Merlot, and our Shiraz was like a weed, we had Shiraz everywhere. And then we just tried to do different things with the Shiraz. And the Poolside came about by just picking fruit that was potentially in the way of birds.

Ben:
Well, that's how our nouveau started. We used to lose the last two or three rows of our Shiraz, so we'd just pick it early and carbonic and make something crunchy out of it.

Tom:
Yeah, and it works so well.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
It works so, so well.

Ben:
And then we took four rows, and then we took rows.

Tom:
Then there was a whole vineyard.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
For us, yeah, that side of things was great. Learning new things, learning the farm, learning when to pick, totally having to forget what I'd learned in Europe for the last six or seven years, and just moving forward. Yeah. I think the great thing we do with making wine is you learn a bit of stuff at university, or you learn with a few producers that you work with, and then all that is a foundation for a greater journey.

Ben:
For sure.

Tom:
And you're influenced by people that come and work with you, or people you go and see, or wines you drink, or discussions you have. It all pushes you either in one way or the other or different ways, and you've got to try and find a balance. Yeah. That farm we don't have anymore so that journey's finished. The last five years we've been working with producers, two or three growers that are trying to pull old vines out in the Barossa to plant more Shiraz.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
Which is a grape that's just totally not suited to the Barossa Valley at all. It's one of those grapes that when it gets hot it stops and then pulls back out of the fruit, so you get a lot of bagging and especially in hot dry climates. And a lot of the grapes that were there, like Pink Sam and Musket and Straight Sam and Valley Floor Riesling, and all those interesting things that hold acidity, are being pulled out.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinco. And we're getting left with Shiraz. And we've sold Shiraz so well as a market for South Australia and for the Barossa, it's ... Yeah, we'll just have to see what happens. But what we're trying to do is save all those old things from being pulled out.

Ben:
Yeah, that's great.

Tom:
So, we're paying really good money for old fruit. We have a grower that wants to pull out a 90-year-old vineyard of Shiraz, because it's not being reproductive, and I said, "Well, we'll just pay you more money so that it's productive for you and you don't have to go and train new vines." Then we don't have to wait a hundred years to get-

Ben:
The quality.

Tom:
... the quality fruit again.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly, for the roots to get down to-

Tom:
I used to think old vines was a bullshit story about what made the best wines. "No, that can't be right. They're just old, they're running out of steam." Once you start making wine from old vines and young vines in different regions, it's like holy shit, old vines just weather the season so much better than young plants. Young plants, it's like a young boy with an erection. The wind goes past and the penis goes up. Whereas old vines, they just cruise along and they take in everything and they keep going. They're just stunning. It doesn't matter if it doesn't rain, it doesn't matter if it rains heaps, they just seem to weather the storm.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And that's really an amazing thing to see. And it justifies the price for some of those wines you see. When someone says, "Oh, this is a hundred-year-old vines and it's 50 bucks to a hundred bucks," it's like, "You're actually paying for the history of that plant."

Ben:
Exactly, yeah.

Tom:
And you can see it most of the time in those wines. Saying that, we make a Grenache Rose from 95-year-old vines that's-

Ben:
What's that called?

Tom:
Rose.

Ben:
Oh right. Yeah.

Tom:
But we douse it with 2% sherry.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
We made a sherry three years prior and then we douse it into the-

Ben:
What style of sherry, just like a Fino?

Tom:
Well, this is a naturally-evaporated version so it's sort of more [Monteiro 00:18:48].

Ben:
Oh yeah.

Tom:
I suppose, in style. Bit of aldehyde, little bit of nuttiness, little bit of sweetness, and we douse that into the Rose. It's a bit of a mind bender. I thought it'd be a 50/50 split of lovers and haters, but it's actually more lovers than haters, which is nice.

Ben:
That's good.

Tom:
And we've done projects with the boys, we did Love and Hate. We did a project here in Adelaide where we did an event in a gallery, the Queen's Theatre, and we wrote things on the demijohns and baked them in the oven. But we wrote it backwards, like lots of hateful things, like, "You are the worst thing ever," and, "I don't want to ever see you again," and, "Fuck you," and, "Get out of here," and blah blah blah. And we had people speak poorly to demijohn and put all this negative energy in.

Tom:
Then we had another one which was like, "I love you, you're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," and, "You're so pretty," and then people again for a few hours saying all these lovely things to them. Then we bottled them down separately, kept them separate, kept them apart so they were never in the same boxes or near each other, and shipped them to Sydney. Then six months later we did a tasting in our old warehouse in Rozelle.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
Where Feather and Bone were, which is another family that we were working with a little bit, just as in like minded souls. They had space, they could put up with us for a while.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And we did a dinner for 200 people. These two wines, we showed it as part of that dinner. More people liked the hate than the love. It was amazing.

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
Yeah. A little bit more, not heaps more but it was a 40/60 sort of split.

Ben:
And you noticed the difference in the taste of the wines?

Tom:
Totally. The hate had more length and more preciseness. Yeah, it was a different wine.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
It was amazing.

Ben:
And I guess this is an extension of what we started on before, before we segued, was when you were at Sam's house, after he's cooked you dinner. You've tried the [Radicons 00:20:34]. You've birthed this, the Egg Project, which I guess is also the birth of the Natural Selection Theory-

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
The collective that you guys made.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Which in a way was really the modern birth of the natural wine movement in Australia?

Tom:
Yeah. It was definitely the earlier parts that had been made public. I suppose it was always some Italian and Slovenians, Eastern Europeans that were fermenting whites on skins.

Ben:
Yes.

Tom:
Yeah. But that would never come to light. It was always bottled in old tomato jars or old Coke bottles and things like that. Most of us never got a chance to see any of that. But this was the beginning of what we now know as the current modern version of natural wine in Australia, and that was 2010.

Ben:
2010, you've woken up from a Radico bender. What was the bones of it? Did you just wake up and it was like, "Let's get some eggs and put some wine in it."

Tom:
Yeah. I woke up and the boys were fully in discussion about ceramic ... Anton had a friend, Phil Sedgeman up the coast, who was making these ceramic eggs to store water in. And we worked heavily with Phil over even the last 10 years, just developing those eggs and getting them to a point where they're fired high enough that they hold liquid properly.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
For wine. In the early days they were only fired to 1,240, 1,250 degrees, which is great for cold water because they need them to weep, you need them to be cool, keep that movement circulating, keep the water fresh. But for wine you need a bit less porosity and a bit less contact with air.

Tom:
So, we were firing higher and higher and higher and higher, to a point where we got to 1,280 degrees. Porcelain starts at 1,300, so we were only 20 degrees from porcelain firing temperatures. It was like this amazing pure clay, like 80% of it coming from Victoria and the other 20% coming from Cornwall in the UK. So, it was a vessel nearly entirely made with Australian materials. Yeah.

Tom:
So, we got Phil on that project to start with, and then we started making these small ones to put the wines into. But the idea was to ferment in these 44 liter vessels in different [azole 00:22:44] types, and play different music to each of them. So, we released the wines with a record and they came out in their own little ceramic eggs. That was just to see what different levels of skin contact, different levels of storks, different soil types, different parts of a room with different music would do. It was brilliant. We tended to always do three eggs, three different eggs in a pack, and then a mixture of everything, just to see what the blend looked like.

Ben:
I did taste a couple of them. I'm pretty sure I had one ... Did you put water in some of them as well?

Tom:
Okay. We as a collective did, because Sam was part of our group, but we didn't know about it. So, Sam did, we didn't. After Sam passed away, lots of friends went back to Love, Tilly Devine for some wine in Sydney and-

Ben:
That was after the Vincent-

Tom:
That was-

Ben:
The wake?

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
So, pulled the corks on some eggs and started pulling them out like ... "That's water." Sam was a joker, right?

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
We were all an experiment for him. He would pull a biscuit apart and stick it upside down on a dog's nose so he couldn't reach it with his tongue. He was an amazing cricket player. He probably should have played for Australia. And he gets to a point he's so great, he'd stop and do something else. He was an amazing guitarist, but he'd get to a point and stop. When you put him in a tasting, his pallet was so sharp. He drunk so many of the most amazing wines around the world. A diverse range. Not just all the Premier Cru, he drunk nearly everything and he knew all of them. He was just firing things at us all the time, like testing us, pushing us, pushing us, and it was the final laugh. He'd bottled these eggs and sold them for 300 bucks and some of them were full of water.

Ben:
That's so funny.

Tom:
Not all of them have been opened yet, so there's still some eggs out there that ... We've still got the last two vintages in the cellar to release at some point.

Ben:
Wow, well done.

Tom:
Yeah. And the money from that goes to Sammy's kids.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
That's the idea. He had two girls when he passed away, so at some point when they get sold and released that'll be some money for the kids. Yeah. He taught us a lot, he showed us a lot. We did lose him too early. But we lost him as Rootstock started. So, he managed to find a way to bring a community together. The community came together and now it's dispersed a little bit, but I think that's because people now are starting to find their own direction of what they want to do.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Rootstock brought them together, they looked at what wines were out there, and now they're deciding to head in their own-

Ben:
Different-

Tom:
... separate directions.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
There's a core group of people still working on a path that Rootstock was a catalyst for, and there's some other people that are doing their own thing.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
And that's fine.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
That's good.

Ben:
Yeah, it seemed to be just like, "We know something's happening. Let's get everyone together and see what happens."

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it was getting a bit diluted. There was producers out there that were still using chemically-farmed fruit and showing wines at Rootstock and it was like-

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
That's not what it was there for. It was there for, this is a stipulation, it was there for organic or biodynamic farming, moving away from chemical farming and moving away from inputs into wine. It was a catalyst for that, and it did push producers. It pushed us too. Up until 2016 we had one wine we added a little bit sulfur too, but we were pushed all the time to try and get our vineyards in balance to then learn more about our work in the cellar.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
To then be able to make more pure wines in bottle.

Ben:
So, now, you're not using any sulfur in your wines?

Tom:
No. We moved away from sulfur in the vineyard in 2011. Yeah, it took us a long time, hey? From 2007 till really the release of 2017 was our first pure release of no sulfur.

Ben:
No sulfur in the vineyard-

Tom:
None in the cellar.

Ben:
None in the cellar.

Tom:
So, none for washing.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
None added to wine.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
Yeah. And that's hard, that's really-

Ben:
How do you manage your barrels? You just have to empty and fill?

Tom:
Empty and fill or pull the heads out, dry them out in the sun, which is a great way to clean them, get rid of tartrates.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
You do need to use a bit of water to soak them up. Or with our larger vats we rack with argon. So, unfortunately nonrenewable a resource in our lifetime, so it's a bit controversial, but we're not throwing barrels out and we're not using water to wash them. We have some wines that we rack off lees with argon, and we put juice back on two months later for the new ferments, without washing because those lees still look great. Not all the time, but it just depends. Especially in the sherry context of what we do, that's amazing. To rack sherry and leave the lees in the bottom and then pour something on the top, it's the most amazing thing. I love it.

Ben:
Yeah, cool.

Tom:
I love it, I love it.

Ben:
Yeah. There must be lots of challenges. I mean, we still use sulfur in most of our wines, most of the reds again. Now, we're separating out, if we have a certain amount of barrels ... To clarify that. We grow the fruit and it's organic and it's biodynamic certified, and then we do use sulfur in the vineyard still.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
In the winery, we're not using adds except for sulfur and not in all wines. But now the reds ... It's taken us a long time to learn how to do it as well and we're still not great at it. We've had a couple of really good successes and a couple of horrible failures.

Tom:
Massive failures.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
For instance, a Shiraz that we do, we would put four barrels of a 10 barrel blend aside and not sulfur that. Then we're only selling that now through our ... Because we have a cellar door now, so we can control that and see where it goes and explain to people. Because some of the issues we've had is we've sent some across to the East Coast, it's gone across Nullarbor, a long way away, and we can't control how they're treated. And also we're still improving the way that we do things again. I think that's where the failures came in. We've just noticed, the healthiest vineyards or portions of our block produce the fruit that don't need the sulfur in the bottle. And that's what it comes down to.

Tom:
And that's the balance.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
I think it's balance in the vineyard, but it's balance in yourself and also in the cellar. You've got to be in a good position mentally and physically to make those wines. Our old farm got sold last year and our cellar was part of that, so we didn't have anywhere built to move into. So, we had to build a cellar, move everything. And our wines last year took a year in bottle to settle down before they were ready to release.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
At the time when you need money to pay bills it wasn't there. You couldn't release those wines. Well, we tried, and it was a mistake on our behalf. They look great now, but they really struggled for those first six months of release. As you evolve and as you slowly get your life and your family life and your farm and what you're trying to do in balance, not just the vineyard in balance but everything in balance, I think that the wine naturally is more stable.

Ben:
I've noticed that with our original vineyard before we bought the new one. You go through hell getting it all ready and then you've got kids, it's like, "Okay, I guess I'm a dad now," and all this chaos, chaos, chaos. And then we had-

Tom:
And a husband too. You forget that sometimes, but you-

Ben:
Yeah, and a husband. Yes, I love [crosstalk 00:30:30].

Tom:
You have a partner that you need to give time back, and most of the time they're the ones that don't get the love because they're the ones that forgive you the most.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And a lot of the times, especially in our relationship, my wife put up with a lot of chaos for a long time and it got to the point where it was like, "Okay, now we need to spend time with each other."

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Because it doesn't matter what's going on, if we're not together then-

Ben:
None of this works.

Tom:
... none of this works.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
We've got to sort our own stuff out.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
That's been amazing. As you mature in your journey in life, you have time to reflect, and I think that's the thing. That time to think. Being able to sit down, or stand up, or lie under a tree, look at the stars or whatever, and just think.

Ben:
Put everything in perspective.

Tom:
Step away from the world and work out what's important for you.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And go forward. That's being a big revolution for us in the last two years. Massive, massive.

Ben:
And then you have more time. You go in with a purpose too, into the cellar or into any job you do.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Either winery or vineyard-

Tom:
Cooking dinner.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Being with your family.

Ben:
You're present as well.

Tom:
You're so much more switched on.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
As opposed to-

Ben:
Worrying about getting that thing out or there's chaos or how many Instagram likes did I get.

Tom:
Yeah. And then you learn to let your things go. It's like, "Okay, we've got all this work to do. We're not going to be able to get it all done. So, these are the priorities, and then next year we'll work on finishing the rest." And so every year you try and keep, we try and keep ... In my way, I'm trying to do things, is we try and keep building and building and building.

Ben:
We're the same. Be pragmatic. Let's get the lead dominoes, whatever they might be, and get as much done as we can, but prioritize those, and then improve for next year.

Tom:
And learn to let go what you haven't done.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
I haven't finished pruning a small block yet, but it's a young section that got frost two weeks ago and it doesn't matter that much because it'll be there next year and it'll be okay.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
It won't be perfect, but it'll be okay. So, in the 12 months, hopefully there's someone that can come and help me two days a week, and some more of those jobs that we're not getting done get done.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
And we find a little bit more money on the side to help pay someone to come and help a couple of days a week and it just frees things up, and then everyone within the family can work a bit clearer in their thought. So, a bit more time for fun stuff too.

Ben:
Yeah. Well, you need that. [crosstalk 00:32:41].

Tom:
Music festivals, a swim in the ocean, and-

Ben:
Fishing.

Tom:
Yeah. Fishing and taking the kids in the boat.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Camping. We chuck swags in the boat and go up the river and-

Ben:
You were saying before, you're in the Flaxton Valley, which is ... Right now we're in Adelaide Central, so that's an hour and half north of here?

Tom:
Yeah, northeast. Up in the ridge line between the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley.

Ben:
Oh, yes.

Tom:
We're at 540 meters.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
Sand. Sandy [inaudible 00:33:09] orange clay.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Lots of mica in the clay, so not amazing water-holding capacity. Lean soil because it's old forest. Clay gives us ocean floor, right? Sand on top. And acidic because of the old forest that was there. Heaps of rose quartz, pockets of ironstone. So, purity, as a grape like Mourvedre, [Singing 00:33:34], Riesling, out of [inaudible 00:33:36] that way. We're going to start finding some really interesting stuff. So, we planted a diversity of things up there of grapes.

Ben:
When did you start planting?

Tom:
We bought it four winters ago. We made cutting as soon as we'd bought it, we put them in the nursery, and then we grew them out for a year and then we planted them. So, I've had three growing seasons, coming into the fourth growing season, and we expect to get fruit in two more growing seasons from now. Because the soil was so lean-

Ben:
It's all been dry grown?

Tom:
We've used irrigation because we're a non-wetting sand.

Ben:
Yes.

Tom:
So, when we get water, it runs off quite a lot.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
If I pour a bucket of water on there, most of it won't get to the roots. But if I drip it in, it'll get there.

Ben:
Slowly get there.

Tom:
So, I need irrigation for probably the first 10 years, and once the plants are strong enough they should be able to survive. So far this year, the plants in the fourth growing season haven't had any water and they look fine. And we made long cuttings like the old guys used to do in ... Not the old guys. The guys that first started planting the Barossa, they planted vine veil with really long cuttings, like 600 to 800 mill long. They planted them really deep so they got the roots right into the clay, and then they were watering with a bucket. So, they're slowing getting them up over time. One man band, 10,000 plants ...

Ben:
Drip along.

Tom:
Yeah. I probably could have paid someone just to water those plants slowly for three years with a horse and cart or a buggy or whatever, or a hose, but the idea was to put the irrigation in, run it for 10 years, see where we're at after five or six, see what we need, and then pull it away. But they've been treated super-poorly so they've had to fight.

Ben:
Which is good. The original vineyard we had was irrigated and it took us three years to phase that out.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
And then the new place is more costal, like sand with some pea gravel over granite, and it's only about 10 meters till it hits this granite rock.

Tom:
Wow.

Ben:
And it's had a history of fairly conventional ... Well, it's been conventional before we got there, but big crop chasing sort of-

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
They never made wine from it, they just sold it and they got paid by the ton.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
So, some of things we started winding the water back. One block we've ripped it all out. And the other the irrigation was so poor that it was almost [crosstalk 00:35:58].

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
We were struggling.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
We had to fix it all up and it's like, "Oh, we can't pull that back yet." The property came with a massive water license, it was like 57-

Tom:
Surface water?

Ben:
... meg. No. We've got a big dam at 40 meg.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
40 meg is-

Tom:
40 million liters?

Ben:
40 million liters.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
And then we've got another 17 and a half into the aquifer.

Tom:
Okay. What's the water in the aquifer like?

Ben:
It's deletable aquifer so it comes out beautiful and pure and at 14 degrees, and it's crystal clear and you drink it and it's amazing. And then you give it five minutes in the air and all the iron oxidizers come out of it, and all the sulfur oxidizers, and then you can smell it.

Tom:
Oh, wow.

Ben:
Yeah, it's phenomenal. So, we just put that over a reed bed and a blue metal filter, like a little dam near a big dam.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
We put it through that. It filters through that dam wall, through blue metal, and then the iron sinks to the bottom and we just take from the dam.

Tom:
Okay.

Ben:
But from the 57 and change meg, we're using eight I think it is now. Yeah.

Tom:
You've got a lake to swim in now.

Ben:
Oh, it's beautiful. There's no Marin in there so don't worry about that.

Tom:
You can swim about, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and we got this idea, because all our sheds, it came with these big machinery sheds which we'd converted to the winery, and the barrel hall, it's all above ground, tin. So, we've insulated them but we don't have any chilling. But we've got this idea where-

Tom:
The cold water, you could use the cold water.

Ben:
Get the cold water from the aquifer, go to the sheds, and then back out to the dam.

Tom:
Can you put back into the aquifer? Could you come out around and go back down again?

Ben:
And jack back down in there?

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
I'll have to ask because we're doing a lot of fracking at the moment, so I'll ask those guys.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
You know?

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Maybe, maybe. Yeah. I mean, we're not taking much out at all from-

Tom:
Then it's going to warm up though too, putting hot water back down there. But yeah, into the dam. I know the guys up in the Barossa at Kalleske-

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
... they've got a big turkey nest dam up on top of the hill. When I was there last, which was probably 10 years ago, they were using the water from that top dam during ferment to run down through tanks in the cellar and into the bottom dam.

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, okay.

Tom:
Yeah. Mate, genius.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Not genius, just simple.

Ben:
Yeah. Using what you've got.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly.

Tom:
And [crosstalk 00:38:14] perfect, you know?

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Water moving around, solar pump, you know?

Ben:
Just got to dig another hole.

Tom:
Yeah. It's easy. It's very simple, not complicated at all.

Ben:
Do you live up on the property?

Tom:
We do, yeah. We've been there for now ... I had a fair bit of work to do in the house, just to get it to a ... We came from a 1880s mud and stone cottage into a 1980s house, so it has this totally different feel. So, learning how to get that feel right, how do you go from old cottage to outdated Italian, Australian-Italian?

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Very complicated. Yeah, we did a lot of rendering and knocked some walls around and-

Ben:
Put some lines out the front?

Tom:
Yeah. A few more fruit trees. It just needed a bit of ... There's still work to do, but I rebuilt the kitchen. I kept some of it, pulled bits out, cut bits out. For us, the kitchen's the heart of the home. We live in that kitchen space. Everyone sits in there. The dog's in there. We're in there. Our homework gets done there. We can work on the office. One of us can be cooking, or two of us can be cooking, someone can be doing some work. We're all chitting and chatting and talking and there's music playing. It's really the soul of our house. And then there's escapes. You've got a bedroom or there's a sunroom which is now a studio for the girls to do painting or drawing, or Em does all her jewelry work in there. We've got some plants growing in there. Then there's a room that's got an idiot box in it, so you can go and watch a bit of TV. TV or movies. And there's a record player in there so you can play music and sit on a daybed.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
There's all these little escapes that you can, within the home, be present but doing your own thing.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
And there's only three of us. There's so much space, we don't need all that space, but it's great. The dog loves it. He'd like to be able to be on the carpet in the lounge room, but he's-

Ben:
[crosstalk 00:40:10].

Tom:
The concrete wall in the rest of the house is fine, and he knows where he can go.

Ben:
Until you're out of the house. That's what our dog does.

Tom:
Well, I don't know, you never know. He is a ratbag but I don't think he's not that much of a ratbag.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
He tends to chill when we're not there and then fire up when we come back. But look, what we don't know doesn't hurt us, right?

Ben:
That's right.

Tom:
So, if he's on the couch chilling out, that's fine, that's fine. As long as he's not on the couch when we get home.

Ben:
Just watching Lassie.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly, watching Lassie. Yeah. That's a beautiful space, we love living up there. We're just trying to find a way to keep it. We're just trying to find a way to find enough money to pay that mortgage.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
That's what's got us at the moment. Not having the production we used to have and trying to find a way to make sure we have enough money to pay those bills. And look, we're back to picking all of our own fruit ourselves. There's a small group of us that work harvest. We all pick together. We get up in the morning and we're picking, come back, lunch at home. Especially if it's hot, lunch at home. Siesta. And then once it cools off at 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon we can move outside and start doing afternoon pressing and stuff like that again.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
It was good, last year was a really nice ... Our production dropped by two thirds, and so we had the ability to think and breathe again. And we made really great wines from doing that so that's-

Ben:
Great. And now you're just on the build again?

Tom:
Now we're just trying to, yeah, get back. We've got another 10 years of working with these Negociant growers to make sure-

Ben:
Oh fantastic.

Tom:
Keep vines in the ground. We need to pay off some debt so we need their volume of fruit. Then hopefully within 10 years we have the rest of the farm planted and growing fruit, and have an orchard. That's important. Have the garden right. Find ways to collect the water that falls on the farm, we're collecting some of it, we're not collecting all of it, so find ways to collect a little bit more so we've got a bit more security in water.

Ben:
Yes. Yeah, that's going to be a big thing I think.

Tom:
Yeah. Underground we're fractured rock so it's complicated.

Ben:
Sure.

Tom:
We could drill a bore, which we will try, but it's 20 a grand and it could be dusty, could be salty, could be great.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
It's almost worth going to the casino and putting everything on green.

Ben:
Yeah, that's it.

Tom:
So, we'll see. That's a beautiful farm, it's got a great feel. I was lucky enough to ... I slept there before I bought it. I showed the girls. They were like, "It's amazing but we don't have any money. So, if you can find some money to buy it we'll buy it, or try and buy it." We negotiated with the owners and they were happy with us and-

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
Yeah, it's been great. And it's actually been a great space to move things to. We still have a bit of a [inaudible 00:42:51], we still got a lot of stuff to clean up on the farm, not from the previous owners but from the palaver we brought from the last farm

Ben:
Sure. Oh, okay, yeah.

Tom:
14 to 15 years' worth of stuff.

Ben:
You got to find spots for.

Tom:
Yeah. We've got to build a few more buildings, we need to build a new warehouse and we need to build a little winery. And we've a lot of stuff outside, so the winery, it'll probably end up being 10 months of old cars and broken things storage, and then when harvest comes push them outside, ferment, do everything in there and then rack it off into the barrel hall and then push all the broken stuff back in and keep working on it.

Ben:
The broken stuff's not Defenders, is it?

Tom:
Well, old Land Rovers, yes.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah. There's a collection of old Land Rovers and-

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
Yeah. There's a 1956, she's in the shed, 1956 Series 1 107-inch. Seized engine, so she's in bits, but no rust, that's amazing. Two 1970s, Series 2A's, 109s. And then yeah, the old trusty red that I drive, Land Rover Defender. Yeah, she's probably in the worst condition of all of them actually.

Ben:
Oh, that's a classic.

Tom:
But she's good. Then we've got a couple of little tractors. We cut our own hay now so-

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
... we've got a small bailer, we cut hay. Every time we do something else, there's more bits.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
There's things everywhere.

Ben:
Lots of projects for retirement with those old Series 1, Series 2.

Tom:
Well, I hope it's not retirement. I hope we can get around to it soon. We've got a 1960 Renault 4.

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
You know those beautiful ... Yeah, yeah. Rochelle, that's her name. She's beautiful.

Ben:
Where do you find these things? Do you just-

Tom:
She was in the supermarket. Someone put a little picture up of her in the supermarket, for sale.

Ben:
Right.

Tom:
It wasn't expensive. I was with a mate, buying something for lunch. I was like, "Oh, we should buy that." He was like, "Yeah, let's go and have a look." So, we went and had a look, and it was like when you go and see a puppy, "Oh, we can't leave you in there, he's so cute." So, we bought her and she was great, but now she's been sitting at one of our houses for five years not moving. She needs some new rubber. It's six vaults, so it's a bit more complicated than 12 vaults.

Ben:
Oh yeah.

Tom:
But she runs. She's good, she's good. Her odometer stopped so I've got to ... I've got enough bits in spare parts that came with the car that I could probably build almost another car.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
Then I got my old car. Yeah, two of our beautiful friends sent my Fiat 500 1972 back from Italy when I moved back.

Ben:
Are we up to seven cars now?

Tom:
Seven or eight.

Ben:
Seven or eight, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. We've got a few. A couple of tractors and a couple of motorbikes.

Ben:
Wow, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. But-

Ben:
Do you do them up yourself?

Tom:
Slowly, yeah. Yeah. You've got to have one that works, right?

Ben:
Yeah, I've got one that works, yeah.

Tom:
And then you need enough to find, for all the bits. You've got to have time to find all the bits. So, yeah, I think it's all-

Ben:
You've got that wrecking yard here I made Reggie drive me to last time.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah. The guys down here in Lonsdale are great. They don't have a lot of the old stuff, but they have bits come in. So, you just have to let them know what you want. Gumtree's great. And driving around Australia selling wine, going, "What's over there? Look at that old thing over there." So, then you meet farmers that have things and-

Ben:
Yeah, cool.

Tom:
That's changing. Scrap metal a few years ago was amazing. A lot of beautiful old cars went to scrap. We lost a lot of amazing old cars from Australia and Australian history 10 years ago.

Ben:
Yeah. During that boom.

Tom:
Now, people are so much more awake and looking at what things are worth. There was an old wreck of a Series 1. I think it might have been an 86 inch or an 80 inch. And it was number two.

Ben:
Really?

Tom:
Or number one. No, not number one, but it was one of the really early ones. And as a wreck it sold for 45 grand. It didn't even look like a car.

Ben:
Wow. Have you seen Owen Latta's?

Tom:
No.

Ben:
I've seen pictures.

Tom:
No, no, no. I haven't.

Ben:
Geez, I don't know how he pulled that off.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
It cost him nothing and the thing is mint.

Tom:
Yeah. Well, look man, some men have all the moves and others, maybe like us-

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
... or like me anyway, yeah, we dance faster than the music and sometimes it doesn't work. So, it's about slowing down and just making things work for yourself, that's really what it's about. And finding time to do stuff. Cars, they understand, if you don't get to them today you can work it out tomorrow.

Ben:
Exactly.

Tom:
But they're like old houses, they need to used and abused and mucked around with.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. A Sunday afternoon, nothing to do, "Oh, I'm going to tackle that day," and you start something and leave that half-done for the next six months.

Tom:
Exactly. And I lived in Italy for a long time, so driving slow cars in Australia now is very good for speeding fines and keeping points.

Ben:
What year's the red one?

Tom:
The Fiat? 1972.

Ben:
Oh okay.

Tom:
Fiat 500.

Ben:
Oh, you drive that around?

Tom:
Oh, the Land Rover you mean?

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Land Rover's 2001, Defender.

Ben:
Right. Oh yeah, cool.

Tom:
So, she's a [Teddy 00:47:29] Five.

Ben:
Teddy Five, yeah.

Tom:
It was when BMW owned them.

Ben:
Yes.

Tom:
It was a five-cylinder, Teddy Five, turbo diesel.

Ben:
Yeah, I had one.

Tom:
Heaps of torque. Some people have had heaps of problems with them, ours has been amazing. I think she's 10,000 Ks short of 400,000.

Ben:
Wow.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
I managed to find a '95 that was 150,000 Ks.

Tom:
Yeah? That would be the 300 TDI engine?

Ben:
TDI, yeah.

Tom:
Great engine.

Ben:
'95, '96, '97, was the last mechanical as well, before they put the chips in.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
But I think the 150,000 Ks was all done on this one rough four-wheel drive track.

Tom:
[crosstalk 00:48:09] track?

Ben:
So yeah, it's-

Tom:
So, she did a tough 150,000 Ks.

Ben:
Yes.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
I haven't told my wife how much I've spent but-

Tom:
Yeah, don't do that.

Ben:
... it's all good.

Tom:
It's better if they don't know.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Just lots of spare parts for a tractor.

Ben:
That's it.

Tom:
That's how it works.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
That's it, tractor mechanic.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Look, I know you've got to head off with Reggie and you've got to work tonight.

Tom:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
What's next? Working on the vineyard?

Tom:
What's next? We've got lots of vineyard work to do, lots of farm work. We're building heaps of compost at the moment. I want to end up with about a hundred ton of compost to spread in Autumn.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
So, we've a little bit of green grass, we've got 50 ton of manure from down the road, we cut all our own hay this year. So, yeah, we're probably another two weeks away from finishing that.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
Little bit of bottling before harvest. Get back to some summer pruning and some trellis work in the vineyard. Time with the family if we can. But harvest is not as chaotic as it used to be, so that's good. And yeah, we're just trying to live on the farm and build.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
And have fun doing it. And be proper parents and proper fun people to be around. I wasn't a very fun person last year, so yeah, all the fun's coming back.

Ben:
You look pretty happy?

Tom:
Oh, we got super-loose in Melbourne last week and it was great, yeah.

Ben:
Was that at Soulful Wine?

Tom:
Yeah. Cam found me under a bush so I think that's a good outcome, that no one got really hurt and there was no tears and no crazy emotions. So, I think that means the balance in life is pretty good.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
There's no aggression and all that. Because of that it's been beautiful. We're actually great, yeah, we're really good.

Ben:
Cool.

Tom:
And life's fun. Life's heaps good.

Ben:
That's great, heaps good.

Tom:
Life's really, really good. Yeah, yeah. Look, at some point I'll have to come with Western Australia with my wife, but I can't show her that Margaret River is a region very close to the ocean.

Ben:
It's not, mate. We're so far. I reckon it's four Ks or something.

Tom:
She'll be like, "Why are we not here?" It's like, "Because you're living on a hill and we're fine, it's fine."

Ben:
Yeah, it's fine.

Tom:
"It's fine. We don't need to live by the ocean."

Ben:
When it all floods, we'll be fine, yeah.

Tom:
Yeah. Oh, you'll be all right. You'll have a boat by then so you'll be all right. But yeah, so we're just moving forward, keep moving forward. We've got a project coming up with James and Anton, and in the future some fun stuff that we want to do together.

Ben:
Great.

Tom:
Bring the old band back together and have fun doing it again.

Ben:
That sounds cool.

Tom:
Because we're all heading in an interesting direction that we like, and we like seeing each other and we help helping each other out. We're doing our own separate things, but yeah, to do a couple of little projects together would be amazing again. So, we'll just see where that goes to.

Ben:
See where that goes.

Tom:
Yeah.

Ben:
Stay tuned.

Tom:
Yeah. Stayed tuned. Don't stay super-tuned, but stay tuned. When we talk about something in the future, it could be a year or two or three or four.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
But the journey is ... Hey, we've got a long way to go.

Ben:
Got to enjoy it.

Tom:
And a lot of fun coming up. And we've made a lot of beautiful friends. We're very lucky in Australia that there's lots of young families making wine for the first time, and so that's, for me, super important to see. It's beautiful to have all these beautiful old families as well, but it's so great to see young families giving it a crack, first generation, and making it work. That's beautiful. And when people come up to you and say, "Oh, yours was the first natural wine I tried," or, "Yours was the first wine I tried when I came to Australia," or, "That bottle was terrible, but this was amazing."

Tom:
All that contact you get with people, that's great. I really love all that. There was someone trying a new Poolside the other day and she came running back up to me, she was like, "I was just in the toilet having a wee, and there was two girls sitting in the toilet, and one of them was like, 'Man, I could fucking drink Poolside forever.'" It's nice to have a journalist write something nice about your wines, but it's so nice that a young woman in the bathroom having a pee, that comment means so much more.

Ben:
Because it's so real.

Tom:
Because it's so real.

Ben:
Yeah.

Tom:
It's like someone drinking it who just loves it.

Ben:
That's great.

Tom:
It's just cubicle to cubicle, that's the best, that's the best. Bennie, thanks for coming to Adelaide.

Ben:
Mate, thanks.

Tom:
Lovely to see you.

Ben:
Yeah, you too.

Tom:
Have fun with the fam.

Ben:
I will.

Tom:
If you guys have spare time, come past, say hello. I don't know how long you're around for but-

Ben:
Yeah, I will try to. Yeah. I'll give you a yell. I think we might be able to.

Tom:
We're abouts. We're in and out a bit, but yeah, we should be home most of the weekend.

Ben:
Cool. Lovely, man.

Tom:
Lovely to see you. Ciao bello.

Ben:
Bye. Well, I hope you did enjoy that episode with Tom Shobbrook. You can find links to what we spoke about, including links to Tom's wines and what's available, at our website realwinepeople.com, along with a link that I'll put up for donations to those wineries and vineyards affected by the fires in the Adelaide hills. Well, I hope you have a great new year and see you in 2020. Cheers.

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