Before I was born, my dad decided to build a house boat. The story goes, that with no experience in boat building, he bought a DIY book and in the hills of Perth, commenced the mammoth project. This took 7 years to complete. The boat was eventually launched in the Indian ocean and my mum, dad and brother lived on it for a few years, until I came along. Last year, the boat was spotted by my cousin down near Rockingham, in Western Australia. With bright yellow paint and unmistakable Chinese junk sails, it is still seaworthy some 30 years later. This attitude of giving anything a go, teaching yourself along the way and going against convention runs strong in my family and is a quality I admire in other people.
The creators of Wild Soul winery in Glen Aplin, Queensland, are such people. It is the only organic and bio-dynamic winery in the area (that we are aware of). It was top of our winery list and our first cellar door visit during our last Granite Belt sojourn. Located up Horans Gorge road in Glen Aplin, the winery is not heavily advertised, but is clearly signed.
We were greeted by Beth Boullier, who had been down in the paddock, tending the raspberry patch. It is a low key cellar door, just the way we like it. Beth told us that with her husband, Andy, they bought the property 25 years ago and originally farmed strawberries and raspberries. In 1995, they planted some vines and after considering the economics of selling the organic grapes to other wineries, Andy Boullier decided to have a crack at wine making. According to Beth, he bought a DIY wine making book and is self taught. It is a small vineyard (1.3 hectares) that produces only dry red wine. At the moment they have Shiraz and Cabernet Merlot.
Growing grapes bio-dynamically has been a challenge but they are completely committed to the process. They believe in minimal interference. The wine is unfiltered and no fining agents are used. Only grapes from the property are used to create a single origin drop, that reflects the particular growing season. This is my favourite thing about wine and why I love wine that is made using grapes from one vineyard.
I love how special characteristics of the environment, soil, climate and rainfall, can be captured in wine. All these factors impact the final flavour and give it a distinctive taste that is unique to that vineyard and vintage. The french term Terroir, which loosely means a sense of place, has been adopted by the wine industry to describe this concept.
Beth and I had a bit of a chat about what it means to run a bio-dynamic vineyard. She made me laugh and echoed my sentiments regarding some bio-dynamic rules, you have to trust that there is essential wisdom to the methods. Sometimes she feels they are only a few steps away from being the crazy farmers that dance around the vines under a full moon. Not that they do this, but bio-dynamic farming does have some unusual methods.
I was curious about the raspberry patch Beth had been tending to on our arrival. I asked to have a quick tour. They still sell raspberries on the side but unfortunately none were packed and ready on our visit.
Beth, down in the Raspberry patch.
For the pure, unadulterated taste of the Granite Belt, I highly recommend a bottle or two of Wild Soul.
Wild Soul is located on Horans Gorge Road, Glen Aplin.
The cellar door is open on weekends and public holidays from 10am – 5pm.
Wild Soul wine is available at the Cellar door and by mail order.
I love a bit of DIY and the slightly eccentric that embark on a mission well outside their existing knowledge base. Power to them. I am all for supporting this sort of bravery.
Let me know (in the comment section below) if you have ever picked up a DIY book and taught yourself something wonderful.
As for me, being Friday afternoon, I could do with a nice glass of red.