It started with a dream

Melissa and Peter Raymond both grew up in rural Australia. Mel in a small town west of Rockhampton in country Queensland and later the Darling Downs; Pete from the Snowy Mountain towns of Cooma, Khancoban and Talbingo in New South Wales. But both knew they weren’t suited to city life.

A visit to Queensland’s Stanthorpe region in the mid 1990s bolstered their love for wine country, stirred their passions, and inspired Pete to enrol at Charles Sturt University, where he completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Viticulture.

With lofty aspirations, Mel and Pete knew if they wanted to get serious about the wine industry, they needed to be in the thick of it. They wanted wine to become their life, and they wanted to grow the best Shiraz in the world.

The obvious choice was a move to the Barossa.

Reconnecting with the Barossa

Throwing themselves into work as pickers, pruners and vine trainers, Mel and Pete were grateful for the vineyard experience and weren’t afraid of long, hard work. Days that started before sunrise were often spent in rain, mud and fog, but at other times in glorious sunshine, taking in magnificent views over Barossa vineyards.

Gathering a wealth of viticultural knowledge, Pete worked in vineyard management roles in the Barossa and Riverland. But Mel and Pete soon upped sticks again, moving to Victoria’s high country in 2003, where Pete took a position with industry icon Brown Brothers.

In 2007, they moved back to South Australia with their two beautiful young daughters, acknowledging it was time to reconnect with their Barossa dream.

Dream becomes reality

After frantically searching for the ideal property, a turning point came when Mel saw an ad in an Adelaide newspaper for a small, derelict farm on Gnadenberg Road in the northern Barossa. Other than a distant recollection of the road’s name on bottles of special old reds his Dad would share with him, Pete hadn’t fully grasped the magnitude of the farm’s location. But he somehow knew they had found what they were looking for.

Driving up to the farm for the first time, Mel and Pete realised they were well off the beaten track. Winding dirt roads, big gums and not much of anything else. There was no water, and the farm was very old and very run down. On a fiercely hot January day with not so much as a blade of grass to be seen, they explored their new home. Mel went straight into the house and Pete went straight out to the paddocks. The farmland grazed back to dirt and the property stinking of sheep, they wondered what on earth they’d done, but when Pete started to dig, a few inches beneath the surface he found the best vineyard soil he had ever seen.

Their dream had become their reality and the property was sold.