At the beginning of the year, Candice Helbig and Frewin Ries’ Carey Gully property had five acres of vineyards, an 1850s-era homestead, and an underutilised shed.
After receiving approval for a $25,000 grant through the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA, they were able to transform their property into the winery they’d long dreamed of operating.
“Having a winery, cellar door and a vineyard, that’s always been a dream for us, and it’s pretty amazing,” Helbig says.
“That’s the ultimate, isn’t it? If you go visit somewhere, you actually get to meet the people that are making the produce, or the people behind the brand. I think that’s what special about it, for me anyway.”
Where once there stood a rundown tractor shed, the couple have built infrastructure allowing them to produce wine for their CRFT Wines label onsite, and a cellar door they can use to host customers who, until now, might only have known them through social media or a bottle of their wine at a restaurant. Previously the couple produced their wine in Lenswood from grapes sourced across the Hills.
“A lot of [customer interaction] was social, because that’s the way it is now, so Facebook, Instagram, our mailing list, we’ve got a wine club as well, which we’ve started recently,” Helbig says.
“I always knew it would be a nice place for people to come, but I guess the support behind our brand has, not surprised me, but it’s been really interesting to see how many people actually do follow us.
“You know that people follow you on social media, Facebook and that sort of thing, but when they start coming here and they’re like ‘yeah, we followed you on your mailing list,’ or ‘we’ve seen this on Facebook,’ you get an actual feeling that there are people, that gap is bridged, I guess.”
They’re also feeding into the increasingly prominent Adelaide Hills wine region experience, showcasing the area through their single-vineyard wines.
“Just in the Piccadilly Valley sub-region that we’re in, within the last two years we’ve had three restaurants open up just within a couple of kilometres from here, and we’ve had two new cellar doors open up within a couple of minutes, and then ours will be a third, plus there’s a few established ones as well in the area, so it’s actually almost becoming a destination in itself, just our little neighbourhood,” Ries says,
“We’re finding that people are coming in and doing a circuit now. There’s a good three or four cellar doors to do through the Piccadilly Valley, and then they go down the road and have a beer at the pub, or go to one of the restaurants in Uraidla, Summertown,” Helbig continues.
“That is what’s exciting about being a part of the Adelaide Hills at the moment, there is a lot of producers, and we’re finally getting the attention that is probably deserved.”
But for both winemakers, nothing beats being able to produce wine on their own property, moments away from their front door.
“It’s the best, literally, having the winery at your house. Just to be able to come out and taste the barrels now,” Helbig says.
“If we need to do a five-minute job, we can do it, and it’s something that you can just do easily and then go and enjoy your afternoon,” Ries says.
“It’s an investment in quality for us. We’ve bought everything so that it’s easy to use, and then when we do need to do something the hard way, we’ve got time to do something the hard way, if that makes sense. Everything’s quite automatic in a way, but to the highest of quality.”
Helbig and Ries welcome visitors to stop by or book in for a wine flight on Saturdays and Sundays between 12pm and 4pm, and the experience, they say, is still surreal.
“It’s been really interesting, actually, having people in our shed on weekends,” Helbig laughs.
“I think it’s a real experience too; we’ve got the winery there, and the vineyards there, so we’re not just a cellar door out in a paddock somewhere that’s got no connection with the winery whatsoever, this is everything right here,” Ries says.
“It’s got to have the connection to the land, and that’s what’s great about here. When we are able to taste a wine and say ‘that comes from here, and this other vineyard just over the hill, so when you drive out the driveway you can see it.’”
CRFT is located at 45 Rangeview Drive, Carey Gully.
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