By Fergal Gleeson
Blind Corner had just finished vintage on the morning that I spoke to proprietor Ben Gould. The Sangiovese was the final grape to come off the vine and they were looking good.
Ben was cooking a big roast lunch for the workers and talking to some visitors at the Cellar Door. This combined with a press interview gives you an insight into the multitasking involved in a small family owned winery.
Ben is from a winemaking background. He started Deep Woods with his brother and father wher he learnt some key lessons. “Dad was a gun at understanding business,” he says. “He taught me the importance of being in control of everything. ‘Grow it, make it and bottle it’ and you’ll stay in business years after year.”
His father sold the business to the Fogarty Group in 1995. “I also learnt so many lessons from Deep Woods buyer Peter Fogarty. So I’ve been lucky.”
Ben knew he loved winemaking from his time at Deep Woods so he did something rather risky. Ben and his wife Naomi sold their house and bought a vineyard!
“For 3 years we sold fruit from the vineyard while my wife and I worked around Europe. We chased surf breaks and toured around biodynamic estates. What they were doing went against what I was taught in uni!” Ben says.
“I didn’t believe what they were saying! On days when there was no surf we sat in the back of the van and dreamt up what our winery would be. Big aims: to be organic with no additives which is what we do now with just a little bit of sulphur. To trap terroir with nothing added or taken away.”
Blind Corner are certified organic and biodynamic. They are one of five wineries in the region that are certified organic in the vineyard and in the winery. The others are Cullen Wines, Settlers Ridge, Stormflower and Burnside Organic.
In an interview with Ben two years ago he said “You need the extreme to inform the mean. This is now influencing the mainstream. It’s customer driven to want transparency in what you eat and drink whether it’s free range eggs or organic chicken. Wine and beer are some of the only products that don’t list their ingredients.”
There’s no doubt that the mainstream has taken note. Some of Margaret River’s biggest names such as Voyager and Vasse Felix are in various stage of their journey to becoming fully certified organic. There’s a downloadable eBook on the Blind Corner website ’What’s in your Wine?”
“People would be surprised that there are 59 things that you can add to wine without having to list on the bottle,” says Ben. “There is no training on how make wines like this. It’s been a journey for us by a process of elimination. Now we are down to sulphur. But the criteria is always that a wine has to taste good, be able to travel and to last.”
More at http://www.blindcorner.com.au
Second part next week…..
From Your Margaret River Region Magazine