Irrewarra Sourdough bread and wine: the perfect match

A year after Bronwynne and John Calvert started their Irrewarra sourdough bakery, they also planted 10 acres of vines down the road on a north facing slope of the Otway foothills overlooking the plains of Irrewarra. It was their goal to create great wine and bread, a perfect match, then later to produce an Irrewarra cheese and butter. The success of the bakery delayed the butter and cheese, but who knows in the future?

The Irrewarra vineyard was planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two varieties that they thought were suited to the cool and wet Colac climate. They made the bold decision not to irrigate the vines. Having spent a vintage in Burgundy, France (home to the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties) where vines are unirrigated and farmers rely on natural rainfall, they were determined to follow the same path. Unirrigated vines are forced to get their roots well down into the water holding sub-soil and make better, more complex wines.

Unfortunately 10 years of drought followed the planting in 2001. The soil in the vineyard site is one metre of sandy black loam topsoil over clay and some ironstone. The lack of rain had a great effect and the production of fruit over the decade was patchy. After a few attempts at making wine from the fruit, with the bakery business and educating their two children claiming so much of their time, the Calverts decided to sell the fruit to other wineries instead of making wine themselves.

However with the time involved in organising pruning, picking, spraying, netting and soil management John and Bronwynne were very pleased when Nick and Gary Farr came along and offered to lease the vineyard.

After a few years of using the fruit in their own label, Farr Rising, the Farrs thought the fruit was so good that they would release a wine sourced wholly from Irrewarra fruit under the Irrewarra vineyard label.

The wines were released last month. The label design is inspired by the aboriginal meaning of Irrewarra being “long spear throw”, an apt description of the flat land that characterises Irrewarra, with the word Irrewarra on the label having a spear through it. The wines are available online from the Irrewarra vineyard website, selling for $59 per bottle. The wines will be served next year at their tasting venue at Irrewarra.