Nearing the Home Stretch of a Great Career

It’s been a great ride but I’m progressing to the next phase that will involve more traveling.

Looking back, I seem to be drawn to challenge and adventure.

Born and raised in the fruit bowl of California, I spent most of my time playing and working amongst the vines (a fantastic childhood).

Although my father was a builder, for some reason I developed a hunger whilst still in high school to be a farmer… but no one took me seriously.  So, my first fulltime job after high school was at an agricultural engineering shop.  This was an excellent learning experience that would prove invaluable for the rest of my life.

I couldn’t convince anyone to start me in farming, so I went to Uni.  I had no idea what to study but my best friend had a lot of fun gaining his Bachelor’s in Communication so that’s what I enrolled as.  He was on the debate team and loved it so thought I’d give it a go… BIG MISTAKE!!!  The next semester I switched to an Agriculture major… if I couldn’t be a farmer I could at least study something I enjoyed.

During summer break I found employment with a farmer/family friend.  A few weeks prior to starting the Autumn semester he said, “Why don’t you stay and work for me instead of going back to University?”  I didn’t have to think about this long, I told him if he found a block of land I could farm that I would work for him in my spare time.  The next day he found the block of land… I didn’t want to quit Uni but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted.  Who knows?  Maybe I could finish Uni someday as a mature student.

Three years later I married his daughter.

I had five successful harvests in California before emigrating to Australia.  A follow-on from a holiday my mother and father-in-law took.  They called us from Wee Waa, NSW, and said “You have to come see this place, this is where we should be farming.”  And it all developed from there.

Amongst other things we grew a lot of grain in California and every time Russia would sneeze the government would wack an embargo on grain, intended to hurt the Russians, but it also hurt our grain prices.  Since we were moving to a new land, we thought it wise to grow cotton as the USA had never placed an embargo on cotton.

We didn’t really want to farm on the Gwydir River system as it doesn’t have a reliable water supply.  But it was where we found some excellent soil and a property sized to suit our budget, so that’s where we landed.

Our kids were born there and went to a one room school located 15km away at Mallawa.  Moree was our nearest town 65km to the east.  We didn’t relish the thought of bussing them into Moree so we looked around for a rural town with good schooling where we would like to live.  Toowoomba, Armidale and Tamworth were in the running, but we settled on Orange.

I had played around at making wine as a child starting as young as ten, but I never succeeded until I was sixteen after our budding winemaker teacher taught us winemaking in high school.  I found the process intriguing and a lot of fun, so it was in my mind to have another go someday with more science.

So, I was very ripe for buying a property and planting a vineyard after our move to Orange.

I made my second successful batch of wine in the Autumn of 1999 and in the Spring of the same year bought the block that would become Patina.  BTW, I had a bottle of the 1999 Cab Sav a couple months back expecting it to be not much chop, but it was great, a big surprise as I made it by following an amateur “how to make wine book”.

I found I needed more science, and I couldn’t understand things like ADP and NTP in the heavier hitting winemaking books.  So, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Wine Science program at CSU.  I was still farming cotton as well as developing the wine business which often necessitated my studying Metabolic Bio-chemistry at 4am.

I have enjoyed some great accolades along the way starting with my first ever Chardonnay winning a couple trophies and recently being shortlisted for the Halliday “Winemaker of the Year”.  This last one really surprised me as I have remained a small producer making the style I like and not paying much attention to what is popular.  But my biggest reward is to see the appreciation my wines have garnered from loyal followers.

I started farming at nineteen and am turning sixty-nine soon… that’s long enough… time to move on to the next phase.  It’s time to spend a little more time traveling.

We still have quite a few wines in the warehouse as I have never concentrated on selling young wine.  And those that follow Patina to the end will see some beautiful wines offered at far better value than the quality suggests.

As mentioned earlier, there will be some changes with the Wine Club dozen moving forward and I will be offering some of the back vintages I have held on to.  A number of them are in short supply and I can’t offer them to the entire membership.  However, I will make some available at the time of the Wine Club releases, but you may need to place your order quickly when notified to have some included in your dozen.

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