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Will Berliner - #013

Will Berliner is the founder, grower and winemaker at Cloudburst Wines.  A small close planted, chemical free vineyard in Wilyabrup, Margaret River. 

Cloudburst sent shockwaves through the local industry in 2013 when it took a clean sweep of all trophies at the Margaret River Wine show.  Not only was Cloudburst unheard of locally, but the wines sold out to New Yorks top restaurants at a record price, and wasn't even available for purchase in Australia.

cloudburstwine.com

Instagram  @cloudburstwine

Photo credit Sarah Hewer

PODCAST:

 

 

LINKS:

Australian Afternoon Tea
New York
New England
Camp Cobbossee
Yale
Litchfield
Portland Seadogs
Caves Road
Chateau Margaux
Coche-Dury
Domaine Clape
Biodynamics
Spag Bol
Chateau Lafite
Cloudburst praise
Pontet Canet
The Overstory
Arum Lily
Vasse Felix
Bucher grape press
Diemme
Jo - Dormilona
Iwo and Sarah
Moose
Cloudburst Chardonnay
Grasstree

 

DODGY TRANSCRIPT

 

Ben:
Hello and welcome to another episode of Real Wine People. Today's guest is Will Berliner of Cloudburst Wines. Now before I get into introducing Will, I have a little announcement to make. This show has not had any sponsors. We've just been doing it out of a bit of love, a lot of love. And I wanted to let everyone know that we've started a wine club, which is called Unreal Wine Club, connected to Real Wine People. And it's a chance to get some of the wines of the guests that have been on the podcast so far. Due to some boarder restrictions, the first case will be very WA-centric and has wines from ourselves, Blind Corner also, Sara and Evo from [C-fitness 00:00:44] and Josephine Perry from Double Owner, Ryan from Express Winemakers. And we also have a wine we make for Mike Betty over at PNV sellers.

Ben:
The club itself, we're hoping that it can go out every quarter, so that's the start of every season. The first case will be released on the first of December this year. Because of the nature of the wines that we are adding to the box, there just isn't a lot of it, so you can sign up now just secure your spot and nothing will be charged today. We will check in with you before all the wines are revealed to ensure you still want to go ahead. To find out more, or sign up please head to ben.wine and that will take you straight through to the club page. And I hope you can grab some of these hard to get wines.

Ben:
So back to Will. I caught up with Will at his vineyard down in Wilyabrup. Will has been living in Margaret for almost 20 years now. He's a New York native. He planted the vineyard back in '07, I believe, very close planted small resembles to some people more of a big vegetable patch than it does traditional vineyards that we see here in Margaret River. Cloudburst and Will started making wine in 2010, and all the wine was heading overseas to the top New York restaurants. Nobody in Margarita knew who he was to be honest. And in 2013, he decided to enter into the local wine show. So, that was three years later. And he took out the top Cabernet top red wine and top wine of show for a complete unknown and really sent shock waves through the industry. His wines were selling at a record price and wasn't even available for purchase here in Australia.

Ben:
We hear about Will's journey from New York through to New England, his time in forestry and the ethos that he brings across to his vineyard here in Margaret River. I hope you enjoy this conversation and without further ado, here is Will Berliner.

Ben:
(silence)

Will:
I tend be soft spoken.

Ben:
If we can pump you up a bit. There you go. How's that?

Will:
I don't know. Does it sound all right? Does it sound like I'm going to loud?

Ben:
I like it.

Will:
[inaudible 00:03:09] loud guy.

Will:
Now, tell me about what's going on for Blind Corner.

Ben:
Oh, you can interview me. This is very exciting. I'm fighting hay fever at the moment.

Will:
Ouch.

Ben:
Yeah, our cover crops are over six foot high now. So we're going to roll them, we're going to crimp them down to sort of capture more carbon. We're trying to build up all the microbes in the soil. And as you know, in the middle of summer here, if you're walking, if you are mowing, February can be 40 degrees or so, and there's nothing living in the first 10 centimeters because it's just baking hot and dusty. So, for us, we wanted a more permanent cover crop, but that does mean a lot more hay fever type things that are out there. So I wake up every day crying.

Will:
Shit.

Ben:
Yeah.

Will:
Ouch.

Ben:
I'm crying now out of happiness to be here with you, Will.

Will:
Me too. Yeah, you're one of the special ones I don't get to see very much.

Ben:
No, and I'm sorry I missed that last party. It went to an address that the person was on holiday so they never forwarded it to me.

Will:
Well, you must come to one.

Ben:
I will.

Will:
You have ambulance cover?

Ben:
Ambulance cover?

Will:
Just checking.

Ben:
Sure.

Will:
That tends to be a-

Ben:
Full health.

Will:
We usually finished with the ambulance.

Ben:
Oh, no. What time do they finish up usually?

Will:
It depends on when it happens.

Ben:
Yeah. Wow. That's exciting. Well [crosstalk 00:04:34]. Keep going.

Will:
Yeah, go ahead.

Ben:
I was going to say for people who are listening, I am at the Cloudburst homestead with Will Berliner, just down in Margaret River. Will of Cloudburst wines, sitting at his dining table. He's made me a lovely Australian... Is it Australian afternoon tea?

Will:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And what have you got there?

Will:
I've got a little green action.

Ben:
Well, let's see how long we last before we crack a bottle of wine.

Will:
But I've already cracked one, really. Does that help?

Ben:
It does. So Will has been in Margaret River now, I guess 20 years?

Will:
Almost.

Ben:
Almost 20 years?

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
Very, very underground to begin with. Some of the rumors that I had heard was there was a shaman living in a teepee, who is only contactable via post office. That was how I first heard about you. So can you tell us a little bit about where you're from? Not depicting the Australian accent there.

Will:
Well, I mean, this is how Australians sound now as well, I mean, we sound like this. We don't always originate on this continent.

Ben:
That's true.

Will:
Yeah. But I was born in a tiny little village on the East-Coast of the US, called New York. And so I kind of grew up with some Eastern US influences. And from an early age, I really liked to be outside. I'm told I was on my first camping trip before I could walk because our family spent a lot of time outdoors. And my look up to people were naturalists. And so at an early age, I learned every plant, every animal, and I had everything from terrarium, to pets, to clothes oriented towards the outdoors. And my favorite kind of day would be off in a field catching butterflies or having a marsh, digging for something. So I grew up like that. And when we, meaning my wife and I, set out to find a place in Australia, we spent a number of years looking for a place that we both resonated with, and that the criterion was no chemicals ever on the land and great access to the great outdoors.

Will:
So we don't really want to just live like at nature, we want to live in nature. So that's kind of our thing. And it extends to the food we eat, and the kind of hang out we like to do. So we found this, I mean, after, I think we were in our third year when we made it to Margaret River. And it just was so beautiful here. And we just both loved it, and we began the search. And about a year later, we came across this property which is contiguous with a national park with nothing between us and the ocean. And the ability to kind of walk out into the back of beyond, as they say. And that was amazingly attractive to us. Now, we had come to Margaret River twice at this point, and we knew there were wineries but we didn't visit a single one.

Will:
Wine was not a factor in our lives or in our decision to move here. In fact, my wife didn't drink then and doesn't drink now. So this project had nothing to do with these lifetime dreams to be whatever it is I am.

Ben:
So what brought you to Australia from New York?

Will:
Well, I was not living in New York any longer. I spent a lot of time in the Eastern deciduous forests of the US and I own forest land, considerable forest land. And I own a farm also up there. And I met my wife who was doing the kind of walkabout the Australians do in your 20s. And it was love at first sight. And ultimately, we ended up together. And after she had achieved her Green Card, which gave her the status that allowed her to leave and come back to the US, she took a trip to Australia. And it made her so happy to return home, which I understand because I returned to what... I mean, this is my home, but that's my home.

Ben:
I understand. Yeah.

Will:
And if you spent your life smelling a certain type of smell and seeing a certain type of landscape, it's kind of, at least for me, that's deep inside. So she needed to come back. So that's why we moved to Australia or that's why we found a place in Australia.

Ben:
Right. And it was he was from Western Australia?

Will:
No. She was from Sydney originally and lived in rural New South Wales. So I think the family thinks I kind of barely got it over the line. We're a day away. It's probably closer than the many long plane trips to get to where we were living.

Ben:
You talked about the East Coast, deciduous forests. Is that up in New England?

Will:
Yeah, New England. Exactly, exactly. It's a region comprised of the states like to the North-East of New York. So Connecticut and Rhode Island and Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. And I spent most of my life in those regions. I was born in New York. I lived there till I went away to college. My college was Yale, which is in Connecticut, in New England and so forth.

Ben:
Gotcha. Okay. Oh, when I left school, I was working in a bar. And I took a winter off and I was a camp counselor in Maine, at a place called Camp Cobbossee, which was pretty crazy. So for nine weeks, I was the lifeguard on the lake looking after-

Will:
What Lake and where was this?

Ben:
The lake itself, it was called Cobbossee, or Cobbossee, I'm not sure how it's pronounced but yeah, it was crazy. It was an all boys camp, and we had a lot of, I think, we had the Secretary of Defense's, kids there.

Will:
Really?

Ben:
Yeah, it was pretty crazy. It was good fun. I just spent my days at the lake teaching kids to swim and-

Will:
Excuse my rudeness, but I just got to see where that one is.

Ben:
Sure.

Will:
C-O-B?

Ben:
Yeah, C-O-B-O-S-S-E-E.

Will:
Is that a Native American name?

Ben:
I'd say it would have been.

Will:
Cobbossee County lake?

Ben:
Could be the one.

Will:
Cobbossee County Lake. Oh, my goodness, in Litchfield. Oh, I know that area. I know that area very well in fact.

Ben:
Wow.

Will:
That's extraordinary. There's an area in there where there's this amazing river, where we like to go and swim and go underwater, it's kind of like a swimming hole lake.

Ben:
Oh, with big round rocks?

Will:
Exactly.

Ben:
Yeah, I've got photos of myself there, I think.

Will:
That's an extraordinary area of the world. That's great. Boom. I know where you are.

Ben:
And I had an international driver's license. The first time I ever drove on the other side of the road to Australia was a minivan full of 12 kids at night through those forests. It was at the day but coming back was night and there's all the moose and deer and stuff everywhere and I was absolutely crapping myself for these young kids in the back. But yeah, we got to see a baseball game, The Sea Dogs?

Will:
Yeah. In Portland.

Ben:
In Portland. That was the one. We had a day out there.

Will:
Yeah, what fun.

Ben:
It was good, it was fantastic.

Will:
My farm's near there.

Ben:
Wow.

Will:
I'm on the Seacoast, though, so I'm kind of water-driven.

Ben:
What do you farm on the-

Will:
I farm gentlemen.

Ben:
Nice.

Will:
Massive vegetable garden, lots of fruit trees, fields, [inaudible 00:13:03] like that. Trees.

Ben:
Great. And I guess you haven't been able to be back for-

Will:
No, I haven't. It's rented out at this point. I don't think I'll live there again, though. So I have to think about that now.

Ben:
So then you bought this property, I guess, early 2000s, would that be?

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
So the house was here, this beautiful old house?

Will:
Yeah, this old house was here. In fact, we didn't see it. We bought it for the land. It was occupied by the family that sold it to us. We saw a picture and I was making films at the time. My intention was I was going to tear it down and make a studio, I didn't even need to see it. We bought this because of the beauty of the land. And again, that idea that this had not seen chemical agriculture so that we would have this territory that was clean. Again, we were here to live. And we have this sight for a house, kind of this hill faces north, blah, blah, blah. We're standing on this hill, and it's about a kilometer, more than a kilometer from Caves Road and I saw the glint of a car. And I turned to my wife and go, I can't believe that. I'm not moving 12 timezones to look at cars. I'm going to have to plant something to block it. And that began a long and well publicized Odyssey to discover what would grow here.

Will:
And it turned out that with this kind of sandy, rocky, weedy place we inherited, that grapes were tangibly good alternative. And I thought I might look into that.

Will:
But I had a lot of ideas about how to grow things that were in contrast to what I was seeing then, and maybe even now. I mean, you're talking about your cover crops and the idea of getting microbial activity in the soil, and that was one of the original things I thought of. In the eastern deciduous forest, you can dig down meters and meters and have loamy topsoil. It's inconceivable here. I mean, we're sand and rock. So I looked at, how do things grow in that?

Will:
There are a lot of sacred cows. There's a lot of ideas. There's a lot of notions in wine-making that I was presented with, like the tap roots are the most important, and what really matters is how deep those roots go. This was kind of in contrast to my experience as a grower of other things, because I'm descended from a line of green thumbs. And we like to see deep, shady soils and sandy things where they were something survives by going deep. Anyway, so it lead to a slightly contrary approach to things than here.

Ben:
The way you grow it. I just had a walk through, and so we've got very close planted vines, lots of mulch and compost on top of the soil. And the vines themselves seem to be more advanced in growth a lot in the area.

Will:
And we're flowering. [inaudible 00:00:00] that a lot of people are flowering right now.

Ben:
Now we're north, we're usually one to two weeks ahead of [inaudible 00:16:23] and we're not flowering it.

Will:
Yeah, no, I'd say we're ahead of everyone. Well, we tend to be. I mean, we usually net in December, whereas I think others might do that in January. When I embarked on this, I wasn't going to do a business, I wasn't capitalizing for a business. But I had a curiosity. And part of the curiosity was born from a connection I'd made with a friend of mine who's a restaurant [tour 00:00:00]. And I told him that I had purchased this land, and I was thinking about growing grapes and making wine and he was very dismissive. He said, "Look, I'm happy to teach you about wine. In fact, I'll teach you everything you need to know about wine, but you really are making a very big and costly mistake because you're not going to make very good wine, and you're going to spend a lot of time and energy not making good wine."

Ben:
Was he based in the United States?

Will:
He was based in the United States, he's a brilliant guy. There's an entire restaurant scene that's grown out of his... He's like the original guy. And then people in his kitchens have created their own restaurants, vibrant scene. This is in Portland where you saw the sea dogs, the restaurant scene is largely attributable to this genius of guy. He's a friend of mine, we knew each other in a different context. It's weird I'm telling you the story, but that's the Ben Gould podcast. [crosstalk 00:00:00]. He said, "Come up every Friday, and we'll go to one of my restaurants." He has a bunch. "And we'll order wine from the menu, or I'll bring something and I'll teach about wine." So I didn't know anything about wine. I had a lot of preconceptions, so I'm not going to tell you half of them but from the very beginning, he encouraged me to order whatever I wanted. And I ordered the most expensive wine on his menu, which was Chateau Marguax. So my first wine with instruction was that. You really want to hear the story?

Ben:
Yeah, absolutely. So straight to the first [inaudible 00:00:00].

Will:
Okay, so Well, that's sort of like what this trajectory was about. So this restaurant was a tremendous restaurant. And it was probably the one of the first in the North-East of the US that had that open kitchen, it was a big show, these beautiful cooks doing these incredible things. And my friend had designed these tables, they were made out of copper. And what would happen is they would have this kind of silicone handle on these omelet pans or saute pans, and you would be served like the pan, right? And you'd have something to hold on to and it would fit on the thing.

Will:
And the signature dish that I loved and probably ordered more times than any other at this particular restaurant of his was linguini clams, which is basically butter. It's butter and garlic, but it's butter. It's a big gloppy thing of butter, and it's delicious. So I ordered that, I ordered the Chateau Margaux and he was like, "So you want the Chateau Margaux?" And I go, "What, is too expensive? You said I should order anything." He goes, "No no, no, no, no, no." So I don't know what he's talking about and I order it.

Will:
And the Somalia comes back with it and pours it into glass and I tasted it's fucking delicious. It was great. We're drinking that. And then the Somalia comes back with a bottle differently shaped with a sock over it and a smaller class. And he pours that and it's like a white wine. I didn't have a lot of experience with wine, but white wine. What? So the food comes and I'm drinking the Margaux and I don't know anything about it, and he goes, "You should try that one." And I'm like, "I don't want to try this white wine." But sure, I try it, and it's perfect. It's absolutely perfect. It's a [Coast 00:00:02] Coasteira. It's a fucking great wine and it's perfect. They're meant for each other. They're married.

Ben:
You mean the wine and the dish?

Will:
Yeah. And I go, "Wow, this is great." He goes, "Lesson one." And then he had some turn Otto's of beef brought out and I had that with Margaux and like, "Oh, boom." So anyway, to make a long story short, because I could go on for hours.

Ben:
Keep going on, we've got all day.

Will:
But this is irrelevant to people. But I just want you to know that after several weeks, he started tasting me on other things and I would [blind 00:21:03] and I would be able to go, "Oh, this is a lot like the Margaux or this is a lot like the Clape." All these different things and I really had this affinity for the first [growths 00:21:21] and for the certain Porto things, and certain white Burgundy's. I really liked them. And he was like, "Okay," to get to the answer of this, he goes, "Look. Australia has shipped terroir, France has terroir. That's why you can't make a Chateau Margaux in Margaret River. You can make a Cabernet and it's going to taste like eucalyptus." Meanwhile, I've been studying a lot and reading a lot, drinking on my own. And I had read that wine was made in the vineyard. And I'm like a, "I'm a green thumb. I'm descended from a line of green thumbs. I've been around plants my whole life." In addition to knowing the plants and animals, I'm growing the plants. Sometimes the animals too. That's been my life. That's been my study.

Will:
When I was in college, I studied that. I was in the Forestry School and I'm into growing things and he tells me, You can't do it." And I go, "But you told me that's how it's done. So why can't I do that?" And he just said no anyway. So that's the answer to your question. There's more to the story. But that's the answer to the question.

Ben:
Sure.

Will:
So when I began, I wasn't going to do a business. I was going to block the road. Originally, I thought maybe I'll grow some grapes and sell them. But then I felt really challenged by these conversations and by sort of the desire to give back somehow, and pay back my mentor by producing something that would be interesting to him. And so instead of just thinking about putting in a vineyard, I thought of putting in just enough fines to like make a little wine, but also to see how I could make the most amazing wine. Because I already proved myself in life. I didn't have to do anything. I did this out of like an interest.

Will:
So it quickly became known as Will Berliner's Vineyard, the most expensive vineyard in the world because we were doing things by hand and we weren't using chemicals and I was trying everything. I was doing bio-dynamic [Voodoo 00:00:00] and they'd never been a chemical. My wife and I already were coming from eating organic food, and so on and so forth. We had a major program there. And back in my sordid past, I had a natural foods restaurant before you were even born.

Ben:
Really?

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
You even dig into that as well?

Will:
I've had this long history with food, food is medicine, clean food. And so the idea was, we're never going to do something that our kids can't walk through. We're never going to put something down that we wouldn't want to put in the temples of our bodies. So we started these things, but it wasn't by some idea where we go, "Okay, we've got $7 million. We're going to spend on this and we're going to brand it like this, and we're going to do this. And this is our [declaire 00:24:38]. It was more like, "Well, let's do this." And, "No, I wouldn't want to do that." A lot of it was in reaction to the advice I got. So some of the major, and I'm still friends with them, consultants in the area had ideas that I differed with. I didn't have shareholders that I had to please. I had to please myself, "Can I do this?" So that's how Cloudburst began. That's how we got here. That's why I approach things the way I approached it.

Ben:
Fantastic. So at the moment, you have Cabernet, Chardonnay-

Will:
And Malbec.

Ben:
And Malbec. And you make all your own composites here on site?

Will:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Great. I'll ask a question you don't have to answer.

Will:
No. No. The answer is no. I won't answer that.

Ben:
What would be an example of some advice that you weren't contrary to?

Will:
Okay. I'll tell you one of several things. So one of my consultants was kind of measuring up and thought that this little area where I planned to grow was just way too small, it was not going to be economical. And so he wanted to basically bulldoze, cut down all the trees. Actually, cut out an entire drainage of a stream, etc, etc, fill in, so we could have these big, long straight rows and fields.

Will:
And I remember one particular tree that I spent a fair bit of time under, and he said, "We should take this tree out." And I'm a guy who won't take a tree out, even after it's fallen, I just don't want to take a tree out. I don't want to protect my home from fire. I want everything to grow." In fact, when we put our fence in, instead of cutting down a straight line or whatever, what I did is I wrapped... It cost five times as much because we had to carry these heavy things and move them, but I basically wove the mesh in such a way that I didn't have to cut anything, other than a little bit of grass, which I'm not afraid to cut.

Will:
So he looked at this tree and goes, "This tree it's got to go." And I go, "Why would I cut that tree?" And he actually gets out one of those rolly things to measure, and he measures around the tree, and then he calculates on his Calc and he goes, "You're going to get another 19 cases from where this tree is." And I said to him, "What do I need 19 cases for?" He goes, "What kind of business is this?" And it's like I didn't have a business. We weren't Cloudburst, I was just some guy ripping up thousands of dollars to see if I could make some great wine. I mean, later on, I did become a business. I realized after first vintage that I had more wine than I could drink the rest of my life.

Will:
Oh, wait a minute, that's kind of how half-hassed everything has been.

Ben:
And what was the first vintage?

Will:
2010.

Ben:
2010?

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
And then you say you have this wine in the shed in the cellar. You realize you're not going to get through it or do you just double down your efforts then and go, "Alright, we're going to go to two bottles a night now and see if we can [inaudible 00:00:00]."

Will:
Well, that's really funny. Not that we have favorites but there's this wine that I just absolutely love now, but when I first drank it, I was very discouraged, I thought, "Oh my god, this wine is just really no good." And boy, a lot went into spag-bol with my young kids. My wife's nursing and she's a nurse and she's off somewhere and every night spag bol's pretty popular. So I am just dumping that into flavoring the spag bol and drinking it. And I drank so much of that, and there's so little of it. And it's like Chateau Lafite. It's ethereal, delicious, amazing wine. It's just amazing to me still that it came off of this property, although the '17 is a little bit similar as-

Ben:
Is this that's 2010 you're talking?

Will:
2011 Cabernet.

Ben:
Right, wow.

Will:
The 2010 was a bull that took every trophy at the wine show.

Ben:
That was an interesting time, wasn't it? So that was in 20-

Will:
I think it was 2012 or 2013.

Ben:
2013, The Margarita Show, which I think has just happened now. But at that point, Cloudburst wasn't known.

Will:
Yeah, true.

Ben:
The wines themselves were heading mostly to the United States. Was that-

Will:
All to the United States. I didn't want to compete. I mean, I didn't want to be in the game here. I didn't want anyone to have any feelings about me. I still don't have a [crosstalk 00:00:00].

Ben:
I have feelings about you.

Will:
You know what I mean? I have feelings about you too. But aside from our bromance, I have discovered that in contrast to the US where I came from, people don't necessarily appreciate Mavericks.

Ben:
Yes, yes.

Will:
So I'll put it that way. I knew that, and I didn't feel that I needed to put a beachhead here, in fact I have no desire to meet regularly with people because it's distracting. The thing is that this has become something quite different from throwing some vines into the ground and having a harvest. It's kind of like a daily spiritual exercise, and it's taken a lot more of me, and it's given a lot more to me than I could have anticipated when I was just simply-

Ben:
Will, the shaman who lived in his teepee.

Will:
Yeah, exactly.

Ben:
Yeah.

Will:
But I'm still Will the shaman that lives in his teepee. I don't really want to be Will, the guy who's standing there, pouring the wine to sell it to you. In fact, I don't think I'm a salesman. Or indirectly, I'm a salesman, of course, I do want the wine to move, but I'm not out there selling. It's like I'm showing you and then if you get it, you're going to get it.

Ben:
Yes, exactly. So for people who don't know the story, I'll probably pass over to you. But in 2013, there was the regional wine show where people enter their wines to get medals and trophies to see how everyone measures up against each other. It's an independent panel. And at that point, no one knew who Cloudburst was. The wine itself won the trophy for best wine of show ,best red wine of show.

Will:
And best Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ben:
And best Cabernet Sauvignon. And I believe it caused a stir because no one knew who you were. And then once they found out that the wine they couldn't buy, it at all went to United States. And I think the price was the most expensive at that point in Margarita. Is that true?

Will:
True.

Ben:
Did I miss anything out?

Will:
Well, I don't know. I mean, there's what is and there's then what everyone says about what is. And what is for me is that I won the show, didn't realize how important that was, whatever. And the next day I was in the vines. So to me, there's a daily practice, if you will, of being as present as I can to what's happening here. And being as responsive as I can to what's here. And that's sort of what I'm up to. And then there's a lot of other nonsense. I mean, a lot of people came in and looked afterwards, some with me and some jumped the fence. And then suddenly there was this idea, we need to do this, we need to do this, we need to do this, but very few people actually bother to ask what I'm doing. They just saw, "Oh, wow, it's close planted, let's throw in another row." And you know a few people who've thrown another row or people have decided to do close plantings. Well, they can get a tractor that's 1.4 or whatever.

Will:
I don't know what they're seeing. They're not seeing what I'm seeing. I don't know. So, yeah.

Ben:
So they're saying you're close planting and then using, I guess, conventional... Conventional in the sense of knowledge and solutions to apply to see if they could get the same results.

Will:
That's it. That's exactly it. Look, I am so glad, as you must be, that people are using nicer inputs. So it's so cool that there's less crap being sprayed, and people are having the courage mostly to see it through, regardless of how the yield is or allowing their brand to change and not getting that formula, tasty little wine, but getting a more real wine, if you will, and moving towards something that's a true expression, and to take certain courage. Now, [Punti Kennett 00:34:03] a couple of years ago. Punti Kennett is a fifth growth in Bordeaux, bio-dynamic, they're considered the bio-dynamic lodestar there and they farm with horses.

Will:
They had a bad vintage and they had deep enough pockets or strong enough presence of heart to not panic, to not mess with it, to just say we're not releasing this year. Most people are driven by the bottom line. And farmers are no different. And most people would not allow that to happen around here. Unless I know of people who are sort of organic except over here they used roundup, but no one's going to know, but it's cheaper that way. Well, we weed by hand. I'm short handed today but if you come on Saturday, there may be eight or nine of us on our hands in these with wheelbarrows pulling out those weeds by hand. And that's a choice. And there's a lot of choices that have gone into, and a lot of thinking and a lot of lessons that have happened by being here. Someone looking over the fence and going, "Oh, that's how he did that." Really? Really? Really? Because I don't even know how I did it.

Ben:
Yeah, I think it is. You're right, a lot of the places of businesses they need to sell wine to get the money for staff, etc. When we started out, I mean, the one I brought for you today, that red wine, so many years, we haven't released it. I'd love to say that it's always because of the vintage. But a lot of the times it's because I've experimented too much in the winery and it's just not good enough release, so that rather disappears into well, these days, hand sanitizer.

Will:
Good one.

Ben:
Things like that. It is. It's interesting. It's like, I guess in lots of industries, you've got the big box supermarkets and the small farmers markets. I know they're both selling food, but there's a different ethos going behind.

Will:
That's right. And I understand someone who's worried about or concerned about their dollars that they may not want to spend $4 for carrots when they can get a large box supermarket for a buck, but there's a lot of difference to those carrots.

Ben:
Yeah, there is. There is. Before we probably talk about wine-making, this exciting new winery that you've got next door with the stonemasons working on it. You mentioned filmmaking in your previous life. What were you up to before you arrived here?

Will:
Man, have been involved in a bunch of different things. But I think that there's been a common theme. I have an abiding interest in the world that's not mediated by some Western viewpoint of how things should be. And so I've been lucky to encounter and have time in places where, let's say, indigenous people are in control. And the view of the planet is very different. I remember one time I was in a very remote place in Mexico. And the people were very poor by Western standards. We made great friends. And then one older woman asked where we were from. And when we said we were from the US, started to cry. That for us, we had everything, we had more money in our tent. Then she would see, probably in most of her years, and she saw how pathetic it was that we were coming from this culture that's so cut-off from the truth of existence. We're on treadmills that are going nowhere and we think we're so significant. And we have no fucking idea.

Will:
A lot of my life has been informed by something that's a little bit different. So when I think about this, I'm really glad I'm successful, but I'm like, "That's not what I'm doing this for." It makes a different kind of decision. If you're making a decision, if you're looking several hundred years down the pipe, what's really good for this region. What's good for your family means like, "I subdivide, and I get 40 House lots out of this, then we'll have lots of money." I just see a lot of that here. This region when we arrived, was less developed. And it's developing very rapidly. And there's a lot of thinking about that.

Will:
My thinking is that it's bad. And then I'm told, "Well, everyone else should have the right to be able to be here." And I go, "Well, is that a visionary way of looking at the planet? Is that a visionary way of looking at this region?" The roads get wider, the cars get faster. The parking spaces get to be more, the trees get to be less. The fear of fire gets to be more because we're putting things where maybe they shouldn't.

Will:
Not to diminish the potential tragic damage that a fire can do. But I know back in America, there are some of these beautiful outer islands where people would have summer homes but they're like flood and Hurricane susceptible. And after a while, the insurance company goes, "Yeah, you own that land, you can put up something there, but we're not going to ensure it. So you want us to pay you a million dollars when there's a storm that we know is coming? No." But here, in order to insure that, that means we've got to cut down all these freaking trees and put this in the way and have this as a potential. Does nature want that?

Will:
We have nature, and then we have this viewpoint we impose on it. It's the same thing with farming from my perspective. I love that people are using new inputs, cleaner inputs, but the farming is the same, same biology that you learned in uni, whether it's conventional or not, it's conventional with good inputs. Thus, it's not the whole picture. You see what I'm saying?

Ben:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Will:
It's just a distinction. It's just not the whole picture. And not that I know better and I'm trying, and I'm listening. Like you with your ferments, I'm experimenting. And sometimes-

Ben:
It goes rotten.

Will:
And sometimes it does. Yeah, exactly.

Ben:
Have you ever read that book, The Overstory?

Will:
Yeah, sure.

Ben:
Yeah, just a lot of what you're saying. It just remind me why everything's interconnected. And the tree that falls becomes a home for something else.

Will:
That's right.

Ben:
Yeah. That informs whatever the micro flora, which informs something else. And if there's a sick tree, then a certain amount of nutrients are pushed towards that tree from the forest itself to keep it going. So that's more of the direction that you come from.

Will:
That's where I come from with the vineyard. And there's a number of things that I did when I decided to make this that ended up having that effect. So I think that we are networked. I think there is a mycelium connection. But what's interesting to me, when you talk about the the idea of The Overstory, I think that's really an ideal that is approachable. But I think that human fear gets in the way of really listening to what... So I'm not just talking about fear of fire. I'm not saying that isn't a valid fear-given our circumstances, but I come from a place where there are fires, but there's very, very, very deep amount of stuff on the ground, fuel on the ground. And I'm not talking about in the west of the US, which is a little bit similar here. But in the Northeast. The there's a vitality in the ground, and a moisture in the ground, because of the things that are rotting and moldy and so forth.

Will:
And a fire could never move through that as quickly as it can here. But I'm not so sure it would move that quickly through my vineyard. Not that I want to try.

Ben:
No, let's not try.

Will:
But I find it moist there. I find the soil rich there and it's creating soil. It's not just what I've added by composting things, it's creating its own soil because it's been given a chance to. We have that possibility all over. I've done the same thing on this farm. People think Cloudburst is wine and that's fine, but I've got projects all over the place to bring the land back from at least the paddocks that were over grazed and very weedy, and we need to go through succession. So for example, locally, there's this big push to kill the arum lily, the devil, arum lily, that beautiful white flower that goes everywhere and kind of takes up a lot of space. And so even the local conservation group suggests glyphosating the shit out of it, because that's supposed to allow the natives to come back, but you're putting something that stays in the system for a long time, and doesn't just stop at the root of that plant. And it lives in this, and so on and so forth.

Will:
Why would you do that? Because you're in a big rush to see some sort of result. It's very western. Who watched those Arum lilies, they move, they don't just stay in one place forever. They'll move and they'll leave that place alone. Or you can cut them, you can cut the flower head, or cut the green. Eventually something changes. There are other approaches, is what I'm saying. But there's this fear, they get everyone going, "Oh my God, the Arum lily, it's going to choke us, we'll all die." It's a lot of shit. It's just not true. I mean, here on the ground, you can see it, you can see how they've moved and how they change. Here's a clump here, two years later, gone. Where did they go?

Ben:
And are you doing anything to move them on? Or is it just the fact that your soil-

Will:
Sometimes I'll cut them down so I'm not feeding them so much. "What an irritant. Look at that guy there. He's got Arum lilies, and he hasn't sprayed them."

Ben:
We have them through some bush land we have on our property. And that's the same thing we can go and get free. I believe it's free.

Will:
Yeah, it's free, man.

Ben:
Yeah. So we've just been digging them up to remove the rhizomes when they pop up, and slowly, slowly, they're not-

Will:
The ticking is hard because you can break off a little Carmen. There you go again. So there's a lot of work to not necessarily get them but I think that if you're really serious, at least every year or twice a year, you go out there and give them a whack, but I think they're beautiful.

Ben:
Yeah, they earn a lot of money in some places of the world. Don't they?

Will:
Yeah, don't they? And I have a lot of birds that take cover in them and nest in there. It's great cover. It prevents the hawks and the crows from finding them. They actually can bring the litter up and hide, it's great cover, but it's evil. And I'm evil for even liking it. [crosstalk 00:46:20].

Ben:
They're the death lily, are they? Is that what they're called?

Will:
They're kind of Lilies, aren't they?

Ben:
Oh, I don't know. I know. They're called Arum, but-

Will:
Oh, yeah, arum lily.

Ben:
Well, they're known as the death Lily, because they're the ones that are used at funerals.

Will:
Oh, well.

Ben:
I think that's in the florist industry there.

Will:
You mean I could like make it a business?

Ben:
You could, yes.

Will:
I could go around [crosstalk 00:46:42].

Ben:
You need to grow more of them.

Will:
Yeah, I think I'm going to. [crosstalk 00:46:45].

Ben:
Get wild foraged death lilies.

Will:
Yeah. I'm not begging the rest of the world. I'm just saying that I'm looking at other things. And yet, when things come back to me, I'm hearing motivations I don't have, connections I don't have, and reasons that are manufactured but not so. And it's really simple to me. I got mentored into some amazing wine. I have this bent that I want to keep things natural. And I'm doing my best to make amazing wine in a natural way. That's it. And so everything is in service of that.

Ben:
So that's just how you come at it, and then whatever decisions are made... Decisions is the wrong word. I know what you mean, it's the preconceived, or post conceived ideas of what people think you do stand for, which doesn't necessarily mean is what you stand for. You're just doing your thing and let the chips fall where they may, sort of.

Will:
Yeah, exactly.

Ben:
All right. So let's talk wine-making. All pretty simple stuff.

Will:
I think so.

Ben:
Yep. You just squash grapes, and-

Will:
Pretty much, pretty much. I mean, I think you and I have a similar philosophy there that there's this idea that there's a range of scientifically sound microbially stable, chemically clean wine-making that allows our wine to age and last. But the range that science dictates is wide enough that we can play on the low end of it. So I will probably to a fault use less sulfur than most, not because I'm afraid of sulfur, but I find that sulfur can dampen the energetic there.

Ben:
The vitality of wine, I found out as well. [crosstalk 00:48:58].

Will:
I can go over the deep end so I can end up with a sulfur that scientifically should be higher. And I have to deal with that a little bit because so far I haven't seen the wine fall off. So I'm lucky in that regard. But I just think it's kind of like, I'm probably a very liberal kind of parent. I think I like to give my kids a lot of rope because I figure that's what worked for me, I chafed against authority. And I learned my lessons. I mean, I don't want my kids to get hurt, but I want them to be resilient and thoughtful and also to get out there, not to be fearful. And I feel like with the wine, I want the wine to be able to develop and-

Ben:
Express itself.

Will:
Express itself, and not just be like, "Okay, you're safe."

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Will:
You're safe, it's homogenized. Let's use the same fucking yeast. So it all tastes the same year after year. "Here's the yeast. Here's the wine. We won. Where's the money? Oh, great." Who cares? I'm sorry. I just don't care about that. I know that people care. I'm not trying to-

Ben:
So at this point, your production is quite small.

Will:
What does that mean small?

Ben:
Well, size doesn't always matter. I know.

Will:
Okay. Yep, I am the smallest, I am. I'm the smallest. I appreciate that. I don't have these ambitions. I don't have some figure that I'm trying to hit. For example, I've put in more Cabernet because I love Cabernet. And I have slightly different but amazingly aspected ground, and I'm very curious what happens when things grow on that soil in that aspect and whatever. So, yeah, there'll be more Cabernet. But it's not because I have to hit some sort of target. And also, pretty much, I would love to have some really great help, but I'm pretty much on my own. So how much can I handle? Yes, I could scale it. I could do all those things. I could-

Ben:
You could get some small tractors, maybe knock those trees over.

Will:
Yeah, exactly. I could do all that stuff.

Ben:
So the winery next door. So it's all natural ferments?

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
So you're not on track? You're not going to make it vintage [inaudible 00:51:35]?

Will:
Unfortunately. Things have been so delayed, it cost overruns. Oh my god, it's crazy. But this is going to be a nice little place for the wine to grow. And the fact that it's basically in stone that came out of the land. A lot of the stone from this property is another wineries, like Fast Felix, for example. And I think there's an energetic to stone. And I think there's an energetic to having it be made where it's grown, which I haven't had that luxury yet. Because when I started, I didn't come in here to make wine. I came here to live.

Ben:
So you've been making the wine so far in-

Will:
Different places.

Ben:
Great.

Will:
Yeah. So now I'm planning to come home, which means a lot less time out on the road, man.

Ben:
That's it. Similar to yourself, we built a new winery, just in time for vintage, just in time, last year. And just the amount of work and the timing and the different moving parts to get it ready for an impending harvest. In fact, I think the press arrived by the third pick, so that was pretty exciting.

Will:
What do you press it with? What's your press?

Ben:
The first time we've rarely had anything new so we've got a Booker, we got PREMOB.

Will:
What size is it?

Ben:
4000.

Will:
Yeah, beautiful.

Ben:
You push a button and it calls [France 00:53:17] and has a conversation with them, it's just phenomenal.

Will:
It's amazing.

Ben:
Yeah. But before that the press, we've got an old airbag press we've had for, I think, three or four vintages prior to that and before that was just all basket but the one we had before that was a DME from 1988, that weed was in the bush for two years outside this winery, completely unmalleable, it was fried. So I managed to get it back. I spent time hitting screwdrivers into solenoids to see what would happen and we sort of brought it back from the dead, kind of did [inaudible 00:53:52].

Will:
Wow, you ran that?

Ben:
Yeah, we're still running it actually that, that runs aside to the Booker, but two presses. It's pretty amazing.

Will:
Do you do any basket pressing?

Ben:
Yes, yes. I still have the basket press there.

Will:
So what's that? Is that a [mowry 00:54:11]?

Ben:
No, Gosh, I don't even know what it is. It starts with I. It was one we got out of the era.

Will:
Is it a wooden or metal?

Ben:
No, we started with a wooden, originally and then we upgraded to the stainless basket and two baskets.

Will:
What do you notice between the two types of presses?

Ben:
The volume of extraction and the quality of the tannins that come out.

Will:
In which? Tell me.

Ben:
So you get way more juice out of an airbag press, especially when you're dealing with white wine, because you can't rotate or move. Once you're in the basket, you're in the basket. With reds, you still get more extraction out of a five or so liters out of airbag press, but it's a harsher process. So with a basket, you don't get as much but there's no turning of the skin. So once it's in there, it's very gentle. And I find the tannins to get out of finer, not as aggressive because you're not grinding, or you're rubbing the skins against each other as much. They sort of go into the basket, pressure comes down, and they just slightly percolate out.

Ben:
So some wines land themselves to the basket in the way of volume as well as style. So some things are so small, we kind of put them in the big press anyway. But certain wines, like a fresh white wine, we get better juice out of the airbag press because it happens faster, less oxygen comes because we're not using sulfur anything. Add the crusher, so we need to get things into tank barrel as soon as we can.

Will:
Do you ever cool room your stuff overnight or before? Or do you just basically bring it in and press it?

Ben:
Both, we have hired a cool room. Every vintage, it's like a big sea container where we can throw things in. And we've used that for carbonic maceration as well. I think it's good, it can buy time so you can spend all morning picking and then-

Will:
Then sleep and then-

Ben:
Yeah, and have lunch and nap.

Will:
Sleep is good.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly. What about yourself?

Will:
Well, I have a very, very, very tiny Booker. And sometimes I'm doing three press runs and emptying and doing all this stuff by myself. And sometimes it's a very, very, very, very long night. And at the end when I'm crawling into that press, naked in the early morning with cold water, it's a challenge. Especially if I have to go the next morning at dawn.

Ben:
Ah, and do it again.

Will:
You know what I mean? So I love the idea of a cool room or a larger press.

Ben:
Yes. Yeah. Bring it around, we'll press it for you.

Will:
No, thanks, man.

Ben:
Have a couple glasses of wine.

Will:
It sounds like a very good plan. You have always struck me as quite wonderful in how you integrate everything, your life, the work, people, joy. So it's very cool to actually talk wine-making with you, you have a lot of experience.

Ben:
Oh, thank you. It's kind of you to say. Well, I have my moments, that's for sure. There's certainly a lot of chaos in my life. But yeah, I guess coming from no knowledge. So starting with Deep Woods and working under a lot of different consultants because... So my dad bought a vineyard, which was part of Rivendale, and then lease it back for a while and built a shed. And said, "Ah, look we're going to make wine." So I worked under all these different consultant winemakers, studied as well, and then sort of worked in a few other places as well to get different experience. Sort of gone almost full circle where I've come back.

Ben:
With our place, we built the shed again, I mean, that's the wineries, is a shed, it's not a beautiful stone building like yours but it's like, "Ah, okay." So I understand all of the the science and the university side of things and the big batch wine-making at different places, bigger places I've worked as well. And they do certainly inform the decisions that I make now of, we don't add acid [inaudible 00:58:39] with all the Blind Corner Wines when there's no yeast or anything, sorry, cultured yeast. And we just use sulfur in some of the wines, at low amounts. But if we want to avoid things like extracting too much bitterness, because we can't find it down the track, then the lessons learned from university and working at a bit more conventional wineries is certainly informed. That decision, everything, is experimentation and knowledge that you just pick up along the way.

Will:
Well, it's interesting to hear that response. I mean, I get that you rely now what you know. I mean, there's something that drives you that's different from a lot of your peers. I mean, there are a few of your generation, I would say, you and Joe and Evo and Sarah in this region, for example, have a certain passion and there's a certain truth about what you're up to. And with you, very much the joy of something comes through. Why? I don't know. It's your personality, but behind that you also have this strong grasp of principle. I wouldn't say in contrast, I have some of that grasp. But I'm not schooled the same way as you are much more intuitive, which can get me into trouble. Fortunately, the wine's forgiving but yeah.

Ben:
I'll get into lots of trouble, don't worry about that.

Will:
Do you?

Ben:
Oh, yeah.

Will:
Tell me some trouble.

Ben:
Luckily, this is my podcast. Well, traveling the winery, absolutely. So I made a lovely quavery vinegar, which we've released as a vinegar now.

Will:
Oh, there you go.

Ben:
Yep. So we buried these quavery in the Bush. The first year was an experiment, it turned out quite well. The second year, it didn't turn out that well, as far as wine would.

Will:
I mean, you let the Pasaman.

Ben:
Yeah, exactly. We just pretty much forgot to check on it. Why? It was out of sight, out of mind. It was buried over in the bush. So we've managed to clean it up. And then this year, we've made a what we think is a wonderful wine out of it. I'll say it now. So Shannon, on skins, which is like bunches into the quivery, sealed it up and six months later pulled it out and bottled it immediately. So we had to drive the [inaudible 01:01:23] over there, put in the sieve and we pump the wine into a tank, drove straight to the winery bottle, so nothing, no sulfur.

Will:
That's amazing.

Ben:
No anything. But the year before it didn't work that way, so we had to clean them out and when we did I said I will check into those all barrels, it's a little bit stinky and that was stinky because the wine in there was more trouble I've gotten into because a wild Furman didn't finish properly. So there was sugar left there so that went volatile, so it started moving to vinegar. So we sanitized that one. So we made sanitizer, distilled it and then we put this other one-

Will:
Do you have a distill-

Ben:
No.

Will:
Did it off-site?

Ben:
That's right. So Wise Winery has distilled [crosstalk 01:02:05] Not that we're selling certified hand sanitizer.

Will:
Oh, certified organics sanitizer.

Ben:
That's right. So we've made vinegar. I don't know how deep you want this trouble question to go. We don't have enough time.

Will:
I love it. And through this all, you and your wife just get closer and closer?

Ben:
Yeah. Well, this year's crazy. So the winery went over budget, as you touched on before. Ours went severely over budget. So we moved out of our house and rented it out. And from December, before Christmas, through to almost the end of vintage, I think it was almost last pick, we were living in a caravan with two boys, 11 and eight, that don't bother damn. And we'd have to wait. We had the cooking facility in the caravan but no shower or ablution. So we would have to wait for the cellar door to close to use the facilities there and there was an old shower in there as well. That was that was three months, and now we live in a tiny little shed at the back as we try and pay down this facility that we've sort of built.

Will:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
But it's all part of it. We are lucky. I think where we live and what we do for a job.

Will:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I could not have dreamed this. Or maybe I dreamed it. There was never in my experience, thought, imagination, anything to do with wine. It had to do a lot with what this is, but it never had anything to do with wine. Yes, food. Yes, clean food. I think that wine has this ability to take us through the veil, and I've always had an interest in that, side interest in what shows us the impermanence of life, the relativity of reality and wine's good with that.

Ben:
It certainly is. So really, when you started having these Friday lessons, I guess, for lack of a better word, with your friend in Portland, when did that start? What year?

Will:
That was 2004. Well, so what happened was we bought the land and I just didn't know what I was going to do. I just couldn't stomach the idea of building something and not being entirely in nature. I mean, my other places are in nature. It doesn't mean that a road camping nearby, but like to look at the road, that was anathema to me.

Ben:
So your whole wine experience has come from 16? Last 16 years?

Will:
Yes, last 16 years. As they say, I've been able to see so far because I've stood on the shoulders of giants. There are people who have been very generous with me locally. Got my start here with people who were helpful. And I've asked a lot of questions of people around the world, and some people have been patient with me, and others have been not patient. And some people take offense when I've done things my way. And that's unfortunate. But that's just because I'm listening to you doesn't mean I'm going to do what you tell me.

Ben:
I think that's the way, isn't it? You take all the inputs, and you decide what's relevant to yourself and what you want to do.

Will:
You decide what you want to do. But I'm not fearful. That's a lucky thing to not be afraid. And so I don't have to do things because someone else is worried. Someone could be worried and say, "Well you should have a bull bar made out of 6000 pounds of steel. And then you'll never ever die when a [roof 01:06:13] comes across." So you can go, "Well, you know what? I'll just brake really hard."

Ben:
Drive carefully, don't go out at night.

Will:
I'll never drive it. I'm just going to leave it in the garage.

Ben:
Yeah. Because I have my fear of the moose coming back with it.

Will:
Oh, God, they're so big.

Ben:
I know. And their body, all the other white has just that windscreen hot. They're huge walking through those forests.

Will:
I have moose on my land. And also, back as I was coming up, I was part of a study of moose, and so I spent many, many, well, weeks, months, whatever in the wilderness studying moose. So I've had some interesting encounters, and they are very big, big, beautiful animals. Oh, my God. I wouldn't want to hit one.

Ben:
No, no, thank you.

Will:
Oh my god.

Ben:
So your wines. Do you have any wines available now? They all sold out or?

Will:
I have some wines available. Do you want to drink something? Oh, or is that going to [scoop 01:07:21] your podcast?

Ben:
No, not at all. Yes, if something's open, for sure.

Will:
Yeah, I do. Let me just grab something.

Ben:
Yeah, absolutely.

Will:
Can I take these off?

Ben:
You can.

Will:
I'll give you a sneak preview out of one, it's been open but-

Ben:
So, we're back. What we have here is the chardonnay.

Will:
Yeah, that's 2020.

Ben:
2020 chardonnay, it's just been bottled and was opened about four days ago now.

Will:
Saturday.

Ben:
Saturday. Today's Tuesday?

Will:
Yeah, four days.

Ben:
Four laps around the sun?

Will:
Four laps around the sun.

Ben:
No, that's four years.

Will:
Four laps around the moon?

Ben:
No, I think it's we've just spun on our axis four times.

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. [crosstalk 01:08:07]. I haven't even taken a sip.

Will:
I've probably been drinking for a while.

Ben:
So these wines. That's beautiful.

Will:
You like it?

Ben:
Yeah.

Will:
I like that. This kind of this chalky lemon thing.

Ben:
Yeah, the acid line's really, really great. Sorry, everyone. Can I buy this?

Will:
Yeah, you can't buy this. It's not released yet. It's the 2020 though.

Ben:
2020 chardonnay? So people can see you at cloudburstwine.com.au?

Will:
Mm-mm.

Ben:
Just .com?

Will:
.com.

Ben:
Wow. You are [inaudible 01:08:44]. Look at you. So blindcorner.com, I believe, is a blind store.

Will:
Like a wine store.

Ben:
It sells curtains and blinds and it's on a corner somewhere. I've been trying for years to get it. I just keep renewing.

Will:
Oh, no.

Ben:
Yeah, it's funny.

Will:
I mean, I love the idea of Blind Corner. That is a really great name. I've always loved that name, Blind Corner. "Where is it?" "I can't see it."

Ben:
So where did Cloudburst come from a name? Was that-

Will:
Oh, well, that was part of the thing. It's one of these things where people think I have some sort of marketing team but I didn't have a name. I was just some guy who put in a vineyard to show his mentor that he could make a good wine and I'm not super comfortable with just putting my name out there. But the Viticultural Services company did a lot of work for me. It was always Will Berliners Vineyard, and I wanted a name. I remember I was talking to my wife, "We need a name. And we've got a lot of grass trees on this property." So she said, "You should call it grass tree. And we can have a picture of a grass tree." And I'm going, "Well, grass is probably associated maybe with Sauvignon Blanc. It's a different kind of wine. But most people think of grasses."

Ben:
Medical marijuana.

Will:
I didn't even think of that. That's a great idea. Yeah, that's my next thing.

Ben:
Yeah.

Will:
So I didn't have a name, And I remember saying something like, you know how sometimes people make contractions of all their kids names?

Ben:
Yes.

Will:
So I said to my wife, "Maybe I'll call it that." And then I had this way of putting all my son's names in a thing. And she said, "You mean like what people put on the back of their boat? Like you sometimes see a yacht. That's [inaudible 01:10:48]?" And I go, "Yeah." She goes, "You should do that and I'll leave you." She's really emphatic, "You're not doing that, you idiot." So I didn't have a name. It was like our first harvest and we're out there early in the morning, my son and I, getting the nets ready. And we made a little prayer and the dawn light came up and it just absolutely rained on us. And at that time, I didn't know that you don't want rain at a harvest. It didn't even occur to me that that wasn't right. But it was just this sudden burst of rain and it was like a renaissance morning.

Will:
You've seen the skies where it's like purple and blue and light blue and cirilium, and rainbows in between clouds that are tinged with Golden. It was so beautiful, and someone's driving by. A few people knew I was harvesting because people would drive by and joke about my close planting, they'd go, "What's going on in the vegetable patch?" And I'll go, "Oh, we're going to have our first harvest." They'll go," Oh, good luck with that. I hope you get some nice tomatoes." And shit like that. You're Australian, so you'll understand this.

Will:
There's another ingredient, I have to say, we have terrible service here. So cellphone service, I can be walking around and then suddenly get 20 messages, which I kind of like. Anyway, so someone called and said, "I just drove by and all the clouds in the Shire are over your vineyard and nowhere else. It's sunny everywhere else." And I go, "Really?" He goes, "What's going on?" And I go, "It's a cloudburst." And the phone went dead-ass, it dies. So I'm standing there looking at my beautiful son, these rainbows, this incredible sky and cloudburst. And I went, "That's the name."

Ben:
That's great.

Will:
So, that's how I got the name.

Ben:
I think it's a great name.

Will:
It's a good name. Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. Anything else you'd like to talk about or sort of-

Will:
Is this where you play the music and end the thing?

Ben:
Can be, absolutely. Well, I think before that, definitely, people can find the wine at cloudburstwine.com.

Will:
That's true.

Ben:
You're on TikTok or?

Will:
Yeah, I am on TikTok. I do a dance, it's called the Cloudburst, the rain dance.

Ben:
Try and make it a thing.

Will:
It's the thing. I'm generally in costume so you would never recognize me. I look much younger in my TikTok.

Ben:
Funny.

Will:
There's an Instagram account that I occasionally, I'm just not active for a number of reasons, there's bad service, I don't have great attention span, I'm not on my phone a lot. I mean, I have it with me, but I'm not on my phone a lot.

Ben:
Sure, especially with no reception.

Will:
Yeah.

Ben:
Okay. So that's Cloudburst Wine?

Will:
@CloudburstWine, or something CloudburstWine.

Ben:
CloudburstWine on Instagram.

Will:
Yeah, something like that. Yeah. No Facebook.

Ben:
No?

Will:
I don't participate.

Ben:
I have just put Instagram on my phone, because we were doing a bit of work with this wine club we're trying to launch, so I need to check things and logging in with my wife's accounts just not working anymore, so I don't know.

Will:
I never understood how there are some couples that are, let's call it peggandmichael@gmail.com. How can you share an e-mail account? How could people to be so close? I can't even imagine a life where you're sharing an e-mail account. If you talk to me, you're talking to my wife.

Ben:
Yeah.

Will:
If you can say it to me, you can say to her.

Ben:
Yeah, I think that works.

Will:
Yeah, I don't think so.

Ben:
Anything else you'd like to add or we haven't covered?

Will:
We haven't covered anything, but I just want this to be good for you.

Ben:
I think it's pretty good. Yeah, I think one of the most captivating was when you were talking about the restaurant and learning, and how that that came about. I thought that was-

Will:
Well, I cut that way short. But the point is that these experiences inform the rest of our life. And one of the things that I learned that I think is really important and this has been kind of like added to by the fact that I've had people near and dear to me, including people who are young, pass away, is be generous and don't wait. You're here and we want to open something. I'm not waiting for an occasion. And my friend wasn't. My friend was like, "You're interested. Let's do this now. Let's make this the occasion. Here's the occasion. Tonight we have [Shatta Luffy 01:15:54]. That's tonight." Do it now.

Ben:
I think that's a lovely thought to finish on. Thanks for your time, Will.

Will:
Yeah, thank you.

Ben:
Let's have some more wine.

Will:
Peace-up.

Ben:
Cheers.

Will:
Or should I say, peace out? Peace out. Peace out [inaudible 01:16:11].

Ben:
Thanks again for listening in to that episode with Will Berliner. I hope you enjoyed it. I do also hope to get another interview out before Christmas. And speaking of Christmas, if you do need some delicious wine for Christmas, please go to ben.wine, which will forward you to our Unreal Wine Club page and pick up some of the wines from the producers that we speak to on this show. Hope everyone is great out there. And we'll speak to you soon. Bye. 

 

 

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