My early years were spent getting mucky in the rich terra rossa soil of Wrattonbully, near Naracoorte in South Australia. My passion for everything related to vines and fine wine has been developed from the tender age of three.
In fact, one of my earliest memories is foot stomping a small batch of botrytis-affected Riesling grapes with my sister and cousins, and my school holidays were a blur of grape harvesting and helping out with vintage.
After completing Year 12, I went to Antwerp in Belgium for a year as an exchange student, where I deepened my love for food, design, travelling, Belgian beer, foreign countries, languages and – of course – fine wine.
After returning to Australia in 1998, I made my first official foray into the wine industry as Baily & Baily Fine Wines’ cheekily named ‘cask warrior’. But I had vague dreams of working in fashion and, hoping to save enough cash to move to London, I decided to do a proper vintage at Hardys Tintara in McLaren Vale. There, I soon realised my destiny lay in wine making. I ended up staying with Hardys for two years, temporarily shelving my plans to move to the UK.
James and I met in 2001 over a wine show lunch. Two years later, we cemented our relationship and common passions while careering around Europe in a Peuguot 206 for six weeks, visiting some of Europe’s most famous food and wine regions. Passing through Italy, the Arneis grape variety from the Piedmont region caught my eye – more than a decade on, it’s now one of the more unusual varieties in our Ten Miles East range.
Back home again, I continued to study for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) at Charles Sturt University and worked for numerous wineries, including Hardys Tintara, Hardys Reynella and Tahbilk.
In 2011, my dream of living in the UK finally came true when our family moved to rural England for yet another adventure.
Then, in 2013, a unique opportunity presented itself – my extended family decided to sell the Ten Miles East vineyard, nestled near Norton Summit. Many said it was impossible, that we’d be crazy to try run a business in Australia while living on the opposite side of the world.
But we knew we could make it work, because we firmly believe anything is possible in this day and age, with supportive friends and family in South Australia, the wonders of technology and a willingness to forgo a little sleep. And Qantas, of course.