Jack and Lois call themselves biological farmers, following strict sustainable and organic farming practices in all their endeavours. They first came to the region in 1981, when Jack ran a gardening business in Portland. While gallivanting on holiday with friends, Jack caught the wine bug and came home with his heart set on planting a vineyard. Despite limited funds, they purchased a part-swamp piece of land and began building their future livelihood and the roof over their heads with mud bricks.
They first planted pinot noir in 1989 and have progressively trialled different varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon (unsuccessfully), and in 2000 planted a block of Riesling affectionately called the “University Block” as it has helped fund their three children’s university education.
Pinot gris was planted in 1999, and it’s been back-breaking work, including having to re-plant twice due to poor strike rate. The block now produces great fruit with intense flavour.
All the fruit is hand picked, often using a handful of the same local pickers as when they first started out 30 years ago. Jack and Lois work extremely hard on compost heaps, which are hand forked onto the vines, and they’re working on producing a compost “tea”, which replaces missing nutrients in the soil.
If we ever need to boost our spirit at Hentyfarm, we chat to Jack and Lois. They talk about their struggles over the last 30 years with a gratifying smile on their faces – we can tell it’s been rewarding when we taste the fruit of their labour.