A new era for Patina

Since inception Patina has gone through a number of phases:  It began with 100 kg of grapes picked from my brother-in-law’s vineyard in 1999 and fermented in the laundry.  Then a big step forward to one tonne fermented in the garage and two wine barrels in 2000.  Followed by 5 tonnes and a move to a small room behind the Orange Co-op Cool Stores in 2001 which soon became too small, and I moved to another fully insulated room of quite large capacity a couple years later.  In 2007 I moved the winemaking from the Cool Stores to the vineyard sight where it has remained until this year.

Over the last few years, I’ve been investigating changes I can implement that will liberate a bit of my time allowing me more time for adventuring.  Perhaps I can blame Burgundy… A few years back Anji and I embarked upon a 500-kilometre cycling trip through Beaujolais and Burgundy and absolutely loved it!  Or maybe I can blame it on having so many birthdays behind and not so many ahead.  I don’t know but whatever it is, I want to spend a bit more time seeing some natural wonders and what other people have accomplished since the time we have become known as homo sapiens.

I’m very passionate about making wine and have striven to make the best wine that I possibly can, but there are other things I want to do as well while there is still opportunity.

To date all things Patina have been done in house, as this is what I love doing, but this keeps me anchored to all things wine from vine to glass… and limits my ability to do other things.

I first met Steve Mobbs when he was part of the winemaking team at Cumulus Wines and was very impressed by his manner and the care he took in handling wine.  I made a mental note to keep in touch just-in-case I needed a hand at Patina sometime in the future. 

In 2017 Steve left Cumulus to look after Wallington Wines in Canowindra.  I delayed a bit and then asked him if he’d have time to look after the Patina Cellar whilst I was traveling… he thought he could fit that in.  Then along came Covid throwing a spanner in our cycling holiday plans and I didn’t involve Steve.

Steve grew up on his father’s vineyard, helping him make wine in Hastings Valley NSW.  He has a similar passion to me but Steve is quite reserved, so I didn’t learn about his winemaking travels abroad until reading it on the web.

In 2020 Steve and Nadja Wallington managed to scrape up enough funds to purchase the six-hectare Sassy vineyard from Rob and Fliss Coles and produced their first wine under the new label ChaLou in 2021.  This caused some mixed thoughts on my part that took a while to piece together.  I was very excited for them and saw the definite advantage of having another high-quality winery on the eastern side of Orange.  But I was pretty sure Steve would no longer have the time to assist with Patina whilst I was away adventuring.

I can’t recall when I first met Nadja but I do recall thinking she was quite young to have been given such a responsible position at the Phillip Shaw winery.

The 2020 vintage was nightmarishly plagued with drought and smoke.  So, a panel was selected from amongst local winemakers to evaluate bucket ferments made from our vineyards to determine how badly our vineyards were smoke affected which was kindly hosted by Philip Shaw Winery.  I wasn’t selected to be part of this panel as I am not good at identifying smoke taint that isn’t blatantly in my face.  Nadja chaired this smoke taint panel whilst I poured wines and washed glasses.  It was then I came to understand why she was given the responsible roll in the Philip Shaw Winery.  She has an amazing or should I say phenomenal palate.

Nadja grew up in Canowindra on the Wallington Wines vineyard, she met Steve at Uni in 2008, and travelled abroad making wines at various destinations overseas before accepting the position at Philip Shaw in 2014.  She has subsequently left Philip Shaw Winery to realize her dream with Steve at ChaLou wines.

Nadja has recently been selected for the Len Evans Tutorial which will commence October 2022.  “The 12 successful students were selected from an extraordinarily strong field of over 150 candidates and will attend what is said to be ‘the greatest wine school on earth’… Evans’ overarching vision was to make Australia a truly great wine nation, primarily by developing the wine-judging skills of the LET scholars.”

I approached Steve in October 2021 to see if there was any chance he may still be able to fit Patina into his schedule giving me a bit more time to travel.  He said they weren’t really intending to do contract wine making but they respected the Patina brand and thought we could work something out and that Nadja would be involved by default… I replied, I thought that would work ok, but to myself I said YES!!! With a fist pump.

Through ensuing discussions, we decided the best solution was to move Patina winemaking offsite to the ChaLou winery where they could “facilitate my winemaking”.  This was Nadja’s phrase, but I think of it as much more than that and I am very excited about this new phase of Patina Wines.

There are now three winemakers instead of one and we each have something very complementary to bring to the winery: I have twenty-three years of experience, experimenting and developing my personal style for Patina Wines;  Steve brings expertise from various winemaking adventures and is exceptional in his diligent attention to winemaking, respecting all wine and giving it the time necessary to preserve and maximise its potential;  And Nadja has the ability to identify and isolate characters within a wine complemented by a keenness and an extensive mental library of winemaking options right at the tip of her tongue that can enhance and show off the best that a wine can be.

I am very excited by this new chapter of Patina Wines and think it may well elevate Patina to another level.

When planning your next trip to Orange be sure to include ChaLou and while there visit Mayfield Vineyard next door.  The most direct route from Patina to ChaLou is via Emu Swamp Road.  I love this drive; it is a little road cut into the edge of the hill with wide views back to the Blue Mountains.  (…and with a name like Emu Swamp, who wouldn’t want to explore it?)  However, if you have mortgaged your house to buy one of those low clearance sports cars, you’d better access ChaLou via Icely Road and avoid a couple kilometres of gravel.

Hope to see you soon and follow this space to see the adventures of Patina Wines.

Cheers Gerald

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