As Trentham celebrates 30 years, we ask the directors to reflect on their experience...
The dream of having my own winery probably occurred during Roseworthy College days where many of my colleagues had much of the same idea, although I was probably more fortunate as our family already grew wine grapes, which was a great advantage. Eventually the dream became a reality with many ‘ideals’ adding to the outcome. The ideals being our family growing grapes, having a beautiful seeing on the Murray River, meeting and marrying Nola who was also knowledgeable about food and having the help of our many family and friends to make it all happen. Here have been many highlights but the one’s that come to mind immediately are our many loyal customers who have been with us from day one; the wine show awards especially for our 2005 Heathcote Shiraz being awarded the top Shiraz at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition, our 1998 Riesling being awards two trophies and our 1994 Ruby Cabernet the best young red at the Adelaide Wine Show. And also the many tourism awards we have received over the past 30 years. Adding to this journey has been the many and varied employees who have helped us to achieve our dream. Shane Kerr (winemaking), Dale Smith (Wine Cellar), Anne Lucas (Administration) and Julia Cavallo (Sales and Marketing) have a combined employment period of 70 years – quite an achievement! Also the many family members who have been employees only adds to the family company ethos and overall feeling of achievement. The Trentham experience has been exciting, fun, hard work, satisfying and well worth the journey.
When we opened the winery in 1988 we were still growing oranges and table grapes (Cardinals). All the irrigation was applied by overhead sprinklers + grapes varieties included Rhine Riesling, Crouchen, Traminer, Porapillos and Columbard. These varieties are long gone and many new varieties like Viognier, Vermentino, Nero d’Avola and Saperavi have taken their place. Irrigation is now done by low-level sprinklers. Mechanical grape harvesting had commenced and we shared a harvester with four other growers. Different trellis types required us to change the picking head in the harvester. This took about 2.5 hours with on head a “slapper” type and the other a “vertical” impactor. Breakdowns were frequent, both with the harvester and the wineries. Machine pruning had commenced prior to 1988. Firstly, we had air powered pneumatic pruning “guns”. These are now replaced by battery powered secateurs. Our next machine was a set up of three circular saws – very crude and dangerous. One of the biggest changes in the last 30 years has been the contraction of the harvest period. We used to pick from early February till mid-May. Now we harvest from late January to early April. Of course, the best memories of the past 30 years are the people we have met, the events, the loyalty and encouragement we have received. Some of the grape growers have been supplying Trentham for more than 15 years – mostly with “word of mouth” agreements. We are most grateful for their support. Wine and Jazz each November was a highlight for many years. The Easter weekend with the ski boat race is always a very special time. There has been many wonderful artists perform at the winery. Amongst them were Vicka & Linda Bull, James Reyne and Joe Camilleri. Overseas travel has been a bonus and I have fond memories of people I met at the London Wine Trade Fair and the Great Grog tasting in Edinburgh. Over the years we have had some great staff and they have helped us get to where we are today. We also had a lot of memorable staff parties – pre-vintage, post vintage, Christmas etc. Thanks to everyone that have helped and supported Trentham over the years and here’s cheers to a great 30th Birthday.
During our 30 years in the restaurant business there have been some great and memorable times. We started out as a lunch only venue, capacity of 40 seats. Within 1 year, we saw an opening for a more relaxed way of eating, introducing our cook-your-own-BBQ. It became very popular, especially for weekends. Then came customer interest in occasional night functions and weddings. We may have held one of the very first marquee weddings in the area at the time…and what a memorable event! The Bride was flown in by helicopter and later the Bride & Groom left in a Hot Air Balloon. The trend for marquee weddings was flowing and nearly 3 decades later still as popular. Fast forward 10 years and now there was also another option for customers. We introduced our platter selection. This was a great way to share food and compliment it outdoors on grassed area. In 2000 we revamped the restaurant, enlarging it and adding our balcony alfresco area. Restaurant dining has changed over the years. Seeing trends come and go has been both exciting and sometime challenging. Our philosophy has always been and will continue to be about great customer service with good quality food and wine.