From farm to fork: Kalettes, brussels sprouts a winter success

A third-generation vegetable producer’s decision to plant 80 mystery seeds in 2012 turned into a promising venture for the Adelaide Hills family farm which has become Australia’s only grower of Kalettes.

Seven years on, and despite an exceptionally dry start to the year, Scott Samwell of Eastbrook Farms in Mt Barker says he is expecting another successful crop as the trendy vegetable comes into season this winter.

Kalettes, which are a winter vegetable hybrid of red kale and brussels sprouts, are a creation from British company Tozer Seeds, 15 years in the making.

As the highly nutritious Kalettes are soon to arrive in shops, consumers are encouraged to choose SA by purchasing locally grown produce to support the state’s growers and producers.

The Samwell family has been growing vegetables in the Adelaide Hills for more than 60 years, with their first property in Summertown started by Scott’s grandfather.

Eastbrook Farms in the Adelaide Hills produces a number of winter vegetable crops including Kalettes and brussels sprouts.

With properties now at Mt Barker and Langhorne Creek, Scott says defined seasons and access to quality infrastructure are key benefits to farming in the state. Eastbrook has produced brussels sprouts since its foundation, but Kalettes are a recent addition.

“I just got told ‘here’s some seeds, they’re something new, give it a go,” says Scott. “In about 2012, I planted the first lot – about 80 seeds. Since then, we’ve upped our quantity to quite a few hundred thousand. It’s been a pretty exciting journey.”

Seven years on from that first planting, Scott’s farm is now producing approximately 50–60 tonnes of Kalettes annually. Alongside their green and Red Darling brussels sprouts, Eastbrook’s Kalettes are distributed to major supermarkets Australia-wide, as well as exported to South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Scott puts the success of the Kalette down to its versatility, noting that the flavour is less intense than typical kale or brussels sprout varieties.

“They’re not as strong as kale, they’re not as peppery as brussels sprouts either. They’re quite a happy medium between the two,” he says.

“If people have a dislike of either of those, this is an alternative that is going to be just as nutritious without having as strong a taste.”

Scott Samwell of Eastbrook Farms in the middle of the brussel sprouts field.

Eastbrook Farms also grows both traditional green brussels sprouts and their uncharacteristically sweet Red Darling sprouts.

“I was blown away by how sweet they were,” Scott says. “Sometimes sprouts are quite strong tasting, and you wouldn’t traditionally use the word ‘sweet’ with sprouts, but the Red Darlings are beautiful.”

Major supermarket Coles has shown strong interest in Scott’s Red Darling sprouts, having launched a successful state-wide trial which developed into a national distribution last year.

Scott is quick to point out the role that local customer relationships have played for his business, particularly through social media and Eastbrook’s new Paddock Identifier Project, which allows customers to see where and how their produce is grown, right down to the paddock in which they’re sown.

“In the past, we’ve always been a step away from the consumer,” he says. “My sister-in-law Deb manages our social media now, and that is connecting us with our customers. People can identify who we are, and where we are.

“As soon as the new year ticked over, we had people enquiring about when our Kalettes were coming into season.”

The importance of local support goes both ways for Scott, who says he sees the benefits in choosing fellow SA producers and supporting the local economy himself.

“It’s great when there’s a connection with the people who buy your produce, wines or meats through,” he says. “You know who they are, and where it’s coming from. It’s a good story, that’s what I think.”

To draw a focus on the importance of choosing local seasonal produce, I Choose SA has partnered with Sprout Cooking School and Pick a Local, Pick SA! to dish up a gourmet SA lunch experience in Rundle Mall on May 24.

Diners can pre-book their restaurant-quality dish, catered by Sprout, at and collect from under the Gawler Place canopy from midday.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Ngeringa’s bounty draws a complete biodynamic picture

More than just a farm, Ngeringa has become a significant South Australian brand synonymous with freshness and flavour – across a raft of premium wines, vegetables, fruits and meats that are featured in many of the state’s best and most progressive restaurants.

It proves that Erinn and Janet Klein’s diverse 75-hectare farm at Mt Barker has captured something special through embracing biodynamic farming principals.

However, somewhat surprisingly, Erinn says the farm’s cohesive output hasn’t been the result of a master plan, rather that the Kleins have kept reacting to change and seizing opportunity as it has occurred through the past two decades.

“The original vision was simply to create a biodynamic vineyard, according to the biodynamic farming principals of Rudolf Steiner, and the concept has grown as it went along,” Erinn explains, acknowledging that Ngeringa was previously his parents’ world-renowned Jurlique herb farm.

The Ngeringa farm at Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills embraces biodynamic farming principals.

This land has been certified biodynamic for more than 20 years, establishing a unique platform for the five-hectare vineyard and straw-bale winery building that was established in 2001.

While the certified biodynamic Ngeringa brand produces a raft of significant wines – from its estate harvest of chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah and viognier grapes, with some sangiovese, nebbiolo, and aglianico – it’s the farm’s diverse food output that has made the Ngeringa biodynamic story so compelling.

“We inherited a significant fruit orchard that was established long before Janet and I got here. We introduced animals to help the land remain in balance – sheep to reduce the weeds that grow among the vines, some chickens, some Southern Highland cows,” Erinn says. “Vegetables came almost as an afterthought. It took a long time and a long of hard work before the farm managed to look complete.”

The current situation has evolved thanks to the introduction of Andy Taylor to the farm about two years ago, to specialise in vegetable production – and this only occurred because an experiment in leasing parts of the farm for share farming didn’t work.

“We found that we couldn’t attract people who were prepared to look after the land as we would ourselves,” says Erinn. “We know that requires a lot of hard work, but we were very disappointed by the outcomes, until Andy came along.”

Animals such as these Southern Highland cows, were introduced to the farm to help the land remain in balance. Photo by Tyrone Ormsby.

His expertise and commitment to growing a diverse mix of vegetables has bolstered Ngeringa’s produce output from two garden beds (which mostly fed the Klein family and a few friends) to now cover two hectares.

“Word about our vegetables kind of leaked out. We’d give a few boxes of surplus food to restaurants that bought our wine, as an added extra, and the chefs went nuts about the flavour and freshness,” Erinn says. “Everyone wanted more, but we just couldn’t provide. Andy’s energy and focus on the gardening has made expansion possible.”

Ngeringa doesn’t sell through wholesalers, because Erinn says that system couldn’t guarantee the absolute freshness of vegetables being promptly delivered. Instead, they pick to order – orders placed by Monday mornings are picked on Monday and Tuesday, and delivered on Wednesday.

Beyond this food being received by six local greengrocers and about 12 restaurants – including award-winners Orana and Africola, Gather @ Coriole and Etica – there are about 25 boxes of mixed vegetables sold to local customers.

“Having some regular families placing orders keeps it real for us, but we are now at the absolute capacity of what we can provide,” says Erinn. “Growing an array of vegetables is seriously hard work that requires an incredible skill set, and Andy is an exceptional gardener.”

Chef Brendan Cato of The Farmed Table, left, with Erinn Klein at a Ngeringa vintage lunch prepared with produce fresh from the farm.

The patience of chefs and customers to only receive what food is available rather than pressure Ngeringa for constant supply has been a game-changer – not only with seasonal vegetable supplies, but also with sporadic meat. Ngeringa runs about 110 ewes and lambs a year, which means that chefs can only be offered fresh lamb every six weeks or so as a special offer. They don’t complain.

“We’re not viewed as unreliable because we don’t have everything available all the time,” says Erinn. “Adelaide has a whole group of smart chefs who respect this. They know that food from our farm has guaranteed freshness and incredible flavour.”

The best advertisement of what the farm provides are sporadic weekend feasts held at the winery cellar door, either as special events for regular customers or as part of festivals, recently using freelance chef Shannon Fleming (formerly at Orana Restaurant) to use only Ngeringa produce.

“We can provide everything that the chefs use, except dairy, and it shows that what we have here is very special,” says Erinn. “Our biggest challenge is how to figure out how we could do more without making it impossible for ourselves to manage.

“At Ngeringa, everything is still a work in progress – perhaps it always will be – but what we’re doing is working well.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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From slab of stone to work of art – Maccy sculptures take shape

Talented artists are cutting, splitting, drilling and polishing tonnes of stone for the third instalment of Sculptors @ Crystal Lake in the Adelaide Hills.

The popular festival at Macclesfield’s Crystal Lake has seen nine sculptors start to transform massive slabs of SA granite and marble into sculptural works of art across nine days.

The large stone slabs were craned into position ready for the strenuous creative process, beginning last weekend and continuing until April 14.

Thousands of people will make their way to Crystal Lake Park to witness the action, as sculptors use hammers, picks, angle grinders and other tools to craft the slabs into stunning pieces, some of which will be placed in public locations across the region.

Sculptors hard at work during the early stages of a past Sculptors @ Crystal Lake.

Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is a biennial event which began in 2015 and has since become Macclesfield’s largest event, attracting a significant amount of visitors throughout the town. The main street is about one minute’s drive from Crystal Lake and also swells with visitors throughout the duration of the festival, particularly on the dedicated family day. The final stretch of the festival is spent with sculptors polishing and refining their designs.

Over the years, many of the sculptures have been installed at various public places throughout the Hills region, including at nearby Longview Vineyard, the Stirling Organic Market and Café, at Prospect Hill and in the nearby regional centre of Mt Barker.

The festival, run by the Macclesfield Community Association in conjunction with the Sculptors @ Crystal Lake committee, is fuelled mostly by volunteer effort and the passion of those in the local arts and sculpture scene.

Event co-ordinator Keryn Korr says the event has grown since its first instalment four years ago and that the 2019 festival will include some new additions.

These include sculpture workshops for school groups and the general public with skilled sculptor Evan Maker who will guide participants (aged 12 and over) through a four-hour session. A geological exhibit will showcase stone used to make the sculptures, including signature rare pink Paris Creek/Macclessfield marble, Sellicks Hill marble, Wudinna granite, Padthaway green, and Harlequin granitic gneiss.

Many of the sculptures involve intricate designs and details, creating unique pieces, some of which are to be admired in public settings.

“Geology plays an important role in providing the dimensional stone required to create the sculptures, combined with skilled sculptors who expose the stone’s hidden beauty,” says geological consultant Peter Hough, who prepared the exhibit with support from the Department for Energy and Mining.

“We want people to come to this sculpture fest and go away with a real understanding about the whole process of stone sculpting including the opportunity to attend a workshop and carve their own piece to take home”.

Keryn says Sculptors @ Crystal Lake has a positive impact on local businesses across the nine days.

“This is our third Sculptors @ Crystal Lake and it has a huge following. Macclesfield businesses get really excited and put special (discount) offers into our visitor guide,” she says. “Thousands of people attend, it’s the biggest thing for businesses and it really rocks the village of Maccy.”

The 2.7m black granite ‘Soaring Prospect’ by Ben Tolhurst from the 2017 event can be spotted at the entrance to the historic township of Prospect Hill.

Highly acclaimed sculptor and artistic director Silvio Apponyi is one of the nine sculptors taking on the huge slabs of stone alongside Barry Lincoln, Peter Syndicas, John Nelson, Timothy Spooner, Jina Lee, Quentin Gore, Robert Wuldi and Sally Wickes.

“People who come and visit the park  can watch the transition from rough stone block through to finished work,” he says. “We (sculptors) all stay down here together so we are working together, looking at what each other are making. Most of us would work in our studios, so to get together and work as friends is a really lovely experience.”

Attending symposiums around the world, Silvio has also directed the Adelaide Hills International Sculpture Symposium, while his recent stone creation of former Australian cricket captain Clem Hill stands at the entrance to Adelaide Oval.

His Spriggina floundersi from the 2017 Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is expected to be installed at the University of Adelaide in the near future.

A much-anticipated event at the 2019 Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is the carving of a giant slab of Melba’s chocolate on April 13. At the 2017 event, Silvio carved a giant chocolate bilby from a 120kg chocolate block, using a chainsaw and axe to carve the shapes, sending chocolate shards flying into the air – much to the delight of children. The chocolate carving will unfold again on the Family Day, Saturday April 13, from 3pm.

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Lot 100: a thriving epicurean delight

In the middle of a cow paddock and beside an apple orchard in the Adelaide Hills, two very large, very modern sheds represent an exciting new development in how outstanding local epicurean fare is made and presented.

Lot 100 brings together a host of the brightest beverage and food talent in this state as co-habitants in a versatile production space and a huge, open plan tasting pavilion, located within the Ceravolo family’s 84ha property in the quiet Hay Valley, just outside of Nairne.

It’s the $4.5 million shared home of The Hills Cider Company, Ashton Valley Fresh juices, Adelaide Hills Distillery (producers of 78 Degrees gin), Mismatch beer and the storage facility for Vinteloper wines.

The size and scale of this smart collaborative venture has made an instant impression on hordes of visitors since Lot 100 opened in December 2018. However, most don’t realise this has been five patient years in the making – and that Lot 100 is determined to keep growing.

Lot 100 during the Adelaide Hills Crush Festival in January, 2019.

The latest step is to open a mezzanine bar in the production shed, built by carpenter Sam Weckert, above the amassed beverage production equipment. At spacious tables and benches, visitors will be able to participate in masterclasses, tastings and blend-your-own workshops presented by the various producers.

“These hands-on activities will be great fun, very educative and also give the participants a very clear idea of just how much production activity is happening inside this vast insulated shed,” says Lot 100 co-partner Toby Kline.

Participants will be exposed to a variety of new taste sensations, especially when presented with Adelaide Hills Distillery’s experimental Native Grain Project, which is working through trials of making spirits from such native ingredients as wattleseed, kangaroo grass and saltbush seed.

The epicenter of the production shed is Mismatch’s 35 hectolitre Premier Stainless brewhouse, which brewers Ewan Brewerton and Leigh Morgan installed and began operating a year ago, while the remainder of the facility was still being completed.

While the space is now humming with activity, there is still ample room for the producers to expand their operations. For instance, Vinteloper winemaker David Bowley continues to make his wines elsewhere in the Adelaide Hills, due to his preference for wild yeasts during fermentation posing a threat to the brewery’s production requirements – but he will store his wine barrels at Lot 100.

The open plan tasting pavilion.

A facility of this size needs significant resources to keep it operating, and its designers have addressed sustainability and efficiency issues at every step of its construction and operation.

The most expensive shed on the property is also the smallest – a $750,000 water treatment facility that extracts water from two bores, removes its salts and minerals via reverse osmosis, then feeds it into the shed for use by each beverage producer. Wastewater is fed back into the system, treated and then used to irrigate crops, grass and trees, including the Ceravolo family’s adjacent orchard, which produces fruit for Hills Cider and Ashton Valley Fresh Juices.

Spent grain from the distillation process is recycled as feed for local livestock and used in the Lot 100 kitchen to bake bread. Electricity used on the site is provided by 1700 square metres of solar panels, creating a sizeable a solar farm on the production shed roof.

While the visiting public doesn’t see this, they do get to sample a huge array of drinks in the company of food within the adjacent tasting pavilion. A bar with 40 taps is designed to swiftly serve big numbers of visitors, with 30 pouring Mismatch beers, six for Hills Cider and four for Adelaide Distillery spritz.

Pizzas are on the menu at Lot 100, as are smaller roasted dishes, local produce plates and pastas.

Adelaide design company Frame (which creates product labels for Mismatch and Adelaide Hills Distillery) has dressed the cellar door interior with raw timber slats rising to the high ceiling and polished-concrete floors. This room opens to broad timber decks and rolling lawns that accommodate many more diners and drinkers under the shade of towering gum trees.

A sustainability message follows through to food served in the cellar door dining area, prepared by chefs Shannon Fleming (formerly of Adelaide’s esteemed Restaurant Orana) and Tom Bubner (of Pizza e Mozzarella and Chicken & Pig). The menu is built around a relaxed Italian style of eating – from pizza to pasta and roasted treats from a wood-fired oven, but the intention is to place locally sourced ingredients on a pedestal.

More plans for Lot 100 are already in motion. Hop plants are growing, so their flowers can eventually be used in Mismatch beers, while a kitchen garden will provide a range of vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, to keep reducing the distance from paddock to plate. An eventual aim is for the cellar door to include produce sales as well as beverages – “a one-stop shop for everything delicious,” as Toby Klein explains.

The makers of 78 Degrees Gin, Adelaide Hills Distillery, operates at Lot 100.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide Hills’ Stirling Market celebrates 30 years of trading

Whether it’s a warm summer’s day, or a misty winter’s morning, the Stirling Market in the Adelaide Hills is a popular place to be on the fourth Sunday of each month.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the market, and Richard James, chair of the Stirling Market Committee, attributes its success to the support of locals, and the strong philosophy on which the market is founded.

‘Make it. Bake it. Grow it. Sew it.’ is the catchcry for those wanting to have a stall and sell their wares, and the basic premise is that local people are there to sell things they have produced themselves.

“Visitors want to buy things that have been made or grown in the local area,” Richard says. “Being able to talk directly to the person who has ‘made it, baked it, grown it, or sewn it’ is absolutely priceless.”

The Stirling Market offers visitors a chance to browse and buy local produce, gifts, clothing and homewares.

This strong sense of ownership, enthusiasm and passion by the stallholders for their goods spills over to the many local, interstate and overseas visitors to the market. Although difficult to accurately assess, Richard estimates that around 4–5000 patrons visit on each market day.

About 60% of the stallholders reside in the Adelaide Hills, with another 10% coming from the surrounding regions. The stallholder fees are modest, which allows budding artisans and growers a chance to establish themselves.

“Several of our stallholders have become very successful and have made their way onto bigger and better things,” Richard says. “It is very satisfying to see young talent succeed.”

Marketgoers can grab a sweet treat to enjoy while browsing the stalls.

An important part of the market’s identity is that all committee members are volunteers, and that the net funds from the stall fees are returned to the community via a grants program.

Local schools, sporting clubs, and other worthy groups from the Adelaide Hills Council area have received funding for their activities and special projects. The committee also embraced the Adelaide Hills Sculpture Trail, commissioning a sculpture as a way of thanking the local community for their continued support. The sculpture by Jocelyn Pratt is called Journeys and is located at the corner of Stirling’s Main Street and Druid Avenue.

More recently the market donated to the new RSL soldier’s monument in Stirling. This year over $30,000 will be donated to worthwhile community projects with a significant donation of $11,500 to the CFS units within the Adelaide Hills Council area.

The Stirling Market is often the town’s busiest day, lining Druid Avenue and surrounds with stalls selling local goods.

“Our philosophy hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years,” Richard says. “Yes, we have grown and improved, but the basic premise is still the same. It’s a bit of a cliché, but one of the reasons we are still here is ‘location, location, location’.

“Stirling village is outstanding, we are just six minutes from the tollgate, and situated on Druid Avenue we are canopied by the promenade of grand oak trees which provide shade in the summer, glorious colour in the autumn and allow the sun to shine through in winter.

“Market day is always vibrant with music, friendly chatter and laughter. The myriad of stalls keep visitors busy and involved, ensuring that the Stirling Market is a ‘must visit again’ destination.”

The next Stirling Market will be held on Sunday, March 24. Events to celebrate the 30th anniversary will be held throughout the year.

Main image features the Stirling Market Committee’s Richard James and Kalila Stewart-Davis alongside the ‘Journeys’ sculpture.

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Out of the dark and into the light – how Savvy’s tough times are helping others

Mt Barker man Chris ‘Savvy’ Savill is using one of the darkest times of his life to help others battle their own demons.

In 2017, Savvy, who spent time in the military before becoming a sound recordist and camera operator, experienced a serious bout of depression after work-related stress and other factors almost became too much.

He decided to seek help and see a psychologist, which in the end didn’t work for him, so instead he tried using his military experience to develop tactics to increase mental resilience and strength.

“When I got depression at the end of 2017 it hit me pretty hard,” Savvy says.

“I pulled the military tactics I knew and converted them into every day tactics to pull myself out of depression, and that’s how I got out of it. One friend in particular also stuck by me and urged me on and I did activities that I really enjoyed, one of them being hiking.”

Now Savvy is putting these tactics down on paper and converting them into an online training method that others can access and use in a way that works for them.

Chris ‘Savvy’ Savill, an RUOK ambassador and mental health advocate.

The mental health resource, Alpha Six, is still under development and Savvy is currently studying cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology to boost his theoretical knowledge to add to his personal experiences.

The Alpha Six outreach program was launched in January 2018 and has existed through a website and Facebook page as well as Savvy himself actively reaching out to people in need of support. So far, he says he has helped save the lives of five people who were on the brink of suicide.

“One of them was a homeless person and I pretty much sat with them throughout the night to make sure they weren’t alone because being alone can be a huge killer,” Savvy says.

“The next morning, I called them an ambulance. It took me all night to convince them to get help.”

Savvy also spreads the word about mental health awareness through his role as an RUOK community ambassador, one of only two in South Australia. RUOK is a suicide prevention charity that reminds people to have meaningful conversations with friends and family who might be struggling with life.

Savvy says he encourages people to adopt four steps when checking in with a friend or family member who is having a hard time.

Savvy shares a motivational talk with a local school.

“Firstly, ask them are they ok. Step two is listen to them in a non-judgemental way, step three is urge them to get professional help and step four is check up on them,” he says.

“All it takes is a conversation. When people have depression they just want to be heard.”

It’s not only the 2017 bout of depression which brought the importance of mental health into perspective for Savvy. Growing up in Cornwall England in the 1980s, Savvy had dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read, write and spell.

He struggled throughout primary school where his frustrated teachers dismissed his dyslexia for laziness, shouting at him to do better and calling him ‘stupid’. This made him a target for bullies.

“It really stripped me of my self-confidence and looking back on it now, I’m pretty sure I went through childhood depression. It wasn’t a pleasant time in my life,” Savvy says.

“But my parents were the best, they were absolute fighters, my mum got behind me and fought and fought to get dyslexia officially recognised in the schooling system. She would go to specialists and they did all kinds of tests on me to confirm that I did have dyslexia.”

Savvy in his home studio.

But by the time Savvy finished high school he had failed most of his final exams, shooting his self-esteem further down but also building the determination he would use later in life.

It wasn’t until after he finished school when he fell in love with sound, one day discovering an audio mixer at a friend’s house. Still in the UK, he worked as a music producer before he was spotted by a sound designer from London’s West End Theatre where he worked for some time before the BBC grabbed hold of him.

“The BBC said they needed a sound assistant in their studios, so I applied and got it,” Savvy says.

“I mainly did their in-house productions, the big shows back then were Top of the Pops, EastEnders, and a kids show called Blue Peter. At Top of the Pops I got to work with 50 Cent, Gwen Stefani and Coldplay, which was really cool.”

Savvy met his now wife Meredith, prompting a move Down Under in 2006. His first job in Australia was helping establish and run an Aboriginal music centre in Tennant Creek in the outback.

It evolved into a recording studio where locals and Winanjjikari musicians could record their language, their stories and their traditional songs.

Savvy filming for Totally Wild.

“It had a cultural significance because people would record the languages that were dying out, they were recorded for the National Archives,” Savvy says.

“We’d go to places where only two elders were left speaking those languages, so once they passed away they’d take the language with them. Now there’s an audio record, which is great.”

From the outback, Savvy went on to pursue his career in Adelaide, working at radio stations and at Channel 10 as an audio and camera operator on shows including Totally Wild.

He was there for almost a decade when the depression hit and he eventually left to continue his own solo sound pursuit – Savill Sound – providing sound services for all media platforms. He also works as a camera operator for sporting events and local film productions here in SA.

His audio and media producing and Alpha Six take up most of his time, but he has also visited schools as a motivational speaker.

“Looking back now, I have a really big driving force because of it,” Savvy says. “If somebody says I can’t do something I want to prove them wrong.”

If you or someone you know is going through a tough time call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Riding high on SA’s mountain biking destinations

The South Australian landscape is internationally recognised for its unique and striking beauty. From the breathtaking vistas of the Flinders Ranges, to the wild and windswept beaches, or the steep wooded gullies of the Adelaide Hills, there’s something that lifts the spirits and inspires the imagination in just about everyone.

This is definitely the case for Nick Bowman, but with an extra added twist. Because where others see a pretty view, Nick sees trails.

Since he was young, Nick has been an avid mountain bike rider, hooked on the thrill of hurtling downhill, dodging trees, jumping logs and flying by the seat of his pants, powered only by his own legs and gravity.

Nick Bowman designs and constructs mountain bike trails across the state. Photo by Kane Naaraat.

“It’s not just about the excitement,“ Nick says. “It’s almost a kind of meditation for me. With mountain biking, you have to focus. You have to be right in the moment the whole time or you’ll just lose concentration and crash.”

The ongoing pursuit of this feeling naturally led Nick to his chosen profession – the design and construction of world class mountain bike courses, through his business, Destination Trails.

Trained in natural resource and biodiversity management, and with many years working as a landscaper, Nick applies a scientific approach to his work, producing trails that will still be in place generations from now.

“It’s not just about recreation,” he says. “A large proportion of quality trail design focusses on conservation. I believe that a good trail strategy is also a good conservation strategy, and I make sure I apply this in all the projects I’m involved with.”

The down hill mountain biking community in SA is big, with race events attracting overnight stayers. Photo by Kane Naaraat.

The Fox Creek trail network in the Adelaide Hills is a good example of this approach. What began in the mid-90s as a damaged, marginal parcel of forestry land, still struggling to recover a decade after the Ash Wednesday bushfires, is now a thriving mountain biking hub with over 80km of trails crisscrossing a series of gullies filled with native regrowth forest.

Nick, alongside members of his club, The Human Projectiles, has spent countless hours over the years on track construction, weed management and revegetation works. He’s also just in the process of finishing off a new beginners’ loop at the top of the network, funded by the Adelaide Hills Council.

“It’s a great little track,” he says. “Heaps of fun and just challenging enough to keep the kids on their toes, but still safe enough for people of any skill level to use.”

Apart from Fox Creek, Nick and the Destination Trails team have also completed projects at Melrose in the Mid North and Point Turton on the Yorke Peninsula, and they are about to commence work on a collaboration with Murraylands Multisports to expand a trail network in the Kinchina Reserve west of Murray Bridge.

The sun creeps through a forest as a rider makes their way through the rugged landscape. Photo by Kane Naaraat.

Header photo by Kane Naaraat.

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From little labels, big wines grow in the Adelaide Hills

The time to focus maximum attention on the Adelaide Hills wine region is right now.

An outstanding suite of wines presented as trophy winners at the recent Adelaide Hills Wine Show underlines that this region rides at the forefront of modern Australian winemaking – and continues to keep offering new sensations, illustrated by the show’s supreme winner being a winemaker most people would not yet have heard of.

Charlotte Hardy makes her small batch wines in the tiny hills sub-region of Basket Range, and releases them under the brand name of Charlotte Dalton.

The New Zealand-born winemaker first came to the district 13 years ago and was soon besotted, realising it produced the type of superior cool climate fruit that would allow her to make lean, sensuous wines of distinctive appeal.

As a result, the 2017 vintage of Charlotte Dalton Wines Love Me Love You Shiraz won three big trophies at the 2018 Adelaide Hills Wine Show – Best Shiraz, Best Single Vineyard Wine and Best Wine of the Show.

Charlotte Hardy of Charlotte Dalton Wines in Basket Range.

Named sentimentally in tribute to a lullaby that her mother sang to Charlotte in her childhood, this slender, spicy and nimble shiraz – more akin to pinot noir in structure, but with a more plush fruit palate – represents an exciting new benchmark for cool climate shiraz.

“I firmly believe that a wine must be made with a happy heart and a content soul,” says Charlotte. “And that is, simply, why I make the Charlotte Dalton Wines – to bring me joy, happiness and contentedness, and to share those feelings through the wines.”

Shiraz in the Adelaide Hills has come of age, and is now respected as one of the four vinous pillars of strength in the region, along with sparkling wines, chardonnay and pinot noir.

The wine show judges awarded seven gold medals for shiraz wines this year compared to three last year – with the great improvers being small, artisan producers.

Out of 592 entries in this year’s Adelaide Hills Wine Show, a vast majority come from small and family producers, and 315 were awarded medals – with a startling 56 being gold medals, signalling a new high water mark of quality.

Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill.

“Right now, this is the most exciting wine region in Australia,” said chairman of the wine show judges Nick Stock, addressing a capacity audience at the wine show awards lunch held at Bird In Hand winery on November 30.

Much of Nick’s excitement is directed towards innovative winemaking. Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill wines, awarded best Adelaide Hills producer making less than 100 tonnes of wine, also won best avant garde wine with the 2018 Murdoch Hill Happy Pinot Gris, an experimental orange wine produced from extended grape skin contact and longer oak maturation.

It has proved such a success from its small batch trial that Michael has confirmed he will make the same style again.

“Experiments can lead to popular styles,” says Michael. “If we don’t push the boundaries and break with convention at times, we don’t fully understand what’s possible in making great wine.”

Recognising boutique excellence extends through to sparkling wine production, illustrated by Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard being awarded best sparkling wine of show for its 2015 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay – one of the exciting categories identifying a raft of small producers throughout the Adelaide Hills region producing fine wines of exceptional quality.

Sharon Pearson and Garry Sweeney of Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard.

“The next step ahead for the producers of this region is focus hard on ultra-specialisation, in both the quality of the grapes we grow and the wines we make,” says Garry Sweeney, co-proprietor of Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard with partner Sharon Pearson.

“We make 16 different wines from only five grape varieties, because we are intent on finding the best individual parcels of fruit and making the very best wines we can from them. Absolute attention to detail is what will continue putting the Adelaide Hills wine region on the map.”

Wine judge Nick Stock agrees. “The Hills winemakers are wonderfully capable of making great sparkling wine. Smaller producers are very committed and realise that the best thing for them is to go the extra step to give their wines that extra quality which will bring them notice and make them successful.”

The region is also abreast of fast-moving wine trends, especially the transformation in style of the booming rosé class, with the best examples becoming more pale, dry and nuanced.

Howard Vineyard winemaker Tom Northcott with a group of cellar door visitors.

This year saw Howard Vineyard 2018 Clover Rosé come out on top, earning the trophy in consecutive years with a refined, elegant and delightfully aromatic wine made from cabernet franc grapes.

Importantly, Howard Vineyard also won the trophy for best Adelaide Hills Cellar Door experience, marking the success of recent improvements to the Nairne winery’s visitor centre that have been introduced by owners Ian and Sharon Northcott with their winemaker son Tom.

“Making sure that visitors to the Adelaide Hills wine region have a fantastic experience is of primary concern to us all,” says Tom Northcott. “That’s how people remember our great wines – by tasting them in a great setting.”

All the results of the 2018 Adelaide Hills Wine Show can be found online here.

Header image: Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill.

Craft beers creating top brew of SA entrepreneurs

A heady mix of top South Australian creators of beer, gin and wine are about to launch a unique Adelaide Hills cellar door with two of the state’s leading chefs running the kitchen.

“Lot 100 is being launched on December 8 and I’m getting married there next Friday,” Mismatch Brewing and group brand manager Leigh Morgan says.

The ambitious, all-in-one brewery, distillery, cellar door and restaurant just outside of Nairne will showcase produce from Mismatch Brewing, Adelaide Hills Distillery, Adelaide Hills Cider, Vinteloper and Ashton Valley Fresh.

The creators of the $4.5 million production facility and cellar door want it to be a memorable experience. From the entry gates to the sprawling 84 ha property, a driveway sweeps up the hill to a modern barn-style cellar door featuring raw timber and concrete, surrounded by 100-year-old gum trees.

Inside Lot 100 at Nairne in the Adelaide Hills.

Inside, the kitchen will be overseen by acclaimed chefs Shannon Fleming formerly from Orana and Tom Bubner from Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, Chicken and Pig – and there’s enough space to host weddings of 660 people.

Next Friday marks its first outing with 226 guests arriving to celebrate Leigh tying the knot with Adelaide occupational therapist Hayley Foreman.

“We won’t be honeymooning yet, I’ve managed to convince my beautiful soon-to-be wife we should escape winter next year instead, which gives me six months working with the team,” Leigh says.

It’s been a jam-packed few years for the co-founder of successful online wine company Vinomofo after joining forces with Mismatch Brewing head brewer and founder Ewan Brewerton full time earlier this year.

All will be revealed at Lot 100 on December 8.

Having launched in 2013 as a gypsy brewer using space in other facilities, Mismatch last year built its own brewery alongside the Adelaide Hills Distillery company famed for its hand crafted spirits.

Its first beer was completed in December 2017 and, in June this year, it took out the Champion Trophy at the prestigious Australian Independent Brewers Association Awards.

At Lot 100, Leigh says the team wants to create leading products but sustainably. There are solar panels and water from two onsite bores is put through a reverse osmosis system and any waste is used to irrigate surrounding orchards. Plans are also afoot to plant a market garden and hops for the brewing process.

“We’re doing this for our children’s children, if more companies think that way it’s going to be so much better for everyone,” Leigh says.

The Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery in the Riverland is another craft brewery operating sustainably.

It’s a similar theme in the Riverland, where Tom and Sarah Freeman first opened their craft brewery, Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, in a 100-year-old shearing shed overlooking the River Murray in 2009.

At that stage, only five other SA businesses were operating in the niche market.

“Now I think there’s about 37 craft or independent brewers in SA alone and another 11 or more applications are with councils,” Tom says.

Wilkadene is 20km north of Renmark with a cellar door overlooking the picturesque river.

It’s 100% family owned with a focus on producing its beers and Utopia range of ales, cider, hard lemonade and the Rude Ruby, a grapefruit drink which the brewery produced 100,000 litres of last year. Its beverages are produced with zero waste, with wastewater used to irrigate the garden, there’s 40kW of solar panels installed and used grain is fed to the chickens.

Rainwater is also used to save on the River Murray with Tom saying as the brewery has expanded so too has the amount of roofs capturing water.

“We have a good relationship with our neighbours who have a packing shed, they give us water and we give them beer,” Tom says.

The Woolshed Brewery is located on the banks of the mighty Murray at Wilkadene.

Tom says ever-increasing consumer interest in craft beers has spurred growth at Wilkadene Station where he grew up before moving to study and work in wine marketing in Adelaide.

It was when his parents were looking to sell the farm and houseboat business that Tom and his wife Sarah came up with the brewery idea.

“I’d developed a real passion for the beer industry particularly the craft industry, and we’d always wanted to do more with the shearing shed,” Tom says.

Over the past seven years the business’s beer production increased by 80% per year and last year by a further 30%, with 70,000 litres of beer now produced on site and another 15,000 litres at other breweries.

Tom’s personal favourite from the Woolshed Brewery is the drop most sought after in the colder months, a dark ale made with locally grown and roasted wattleseed called Judas the Dark.

“We get the wattleseed from just down the road at Australian Native Bush Foods, it’s run by Mark Lucas and he was a wool classer here when I was a kid,” he adds.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Shop South Australia is home to a unique collection of over 300 South Australian gifts and goods from more than 70 local makers and producers. Choose local and Shop South Australia.

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Adelaide Hills apple dynasty growing fresh success

Working with family can have its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but Adelaide Hills food technologist Joyce Ceravolo wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 29-year-old is a fourth-generation family member of Ashton-based fruit growers Ceravolo Orchards, producers of apples, pears, cherries and strawberries.

Studying law and chemical engineering at university, Joyce had ambitions to enter the cosmetics industry and even worked in dairy processing before the call of the family business was something she couldn’t ignore.

She now works alongside her brother Joseph, and together the siblings have taken the reigns of Ceravolo Orchards’ juicing business Ashton Valley Fresh.

The wholesale fresh cider and drinking juice business complements the family’s core operation, Ceravolo Orchards, which has seven growing sites across the Adelaide Hills and a strawberry farm at Myponga, all up employing about 150 people seasonally.

The Ceravolos have been involved in fruit growing and market gardening in the Hills for decades, with Joyce’s great-grandparents migrating from Italy to Australia in the 1950s.

The Ceravolo family of Ashton Valley Fresh and Ceravolo Orchards, from left, siblings Joseph and Joyce and their parents Sandra and Tony. Photo by James Knowler.

Her grandfather can still be spotted on a tractor chugging away in the orchards, while her father Tony and her other brother Ralph rise in the wee hours of the morning to truck wholesale fruit to the South Australian Produce Market in Pooraka.

Together, the Ceravolos run a multi-layered operation, with each generation of the family bringing a different work ethic and fresh ideas to ensure they stay in the game.

“We are all different,” Joyce says. “My grandparents’ generation is the careful, hard-working generation and my dad’s generation learnt to work smart but still thought everyone should work harder. My two brothers and myself very much employ the school of thought that if something can be made computerised or made easier, let’s do that.”

Ashton Valley Fresh was born in 2008 from a desire to expand the business’s portfolio and give local growers better returns on less than perfect fruit.

In 2013 Joyce and Joseph stepped in to run the juicing business with Joyce taking on the role of quality assurance manager, and Joseph becoming production manager.

“Joseph had never worked in food processing before, and I had come from dairy processing, so we both had a very steep learning curve together and it was incredibly challenging for the first two years,” Joyce says.

“But now we work together fantastically and I can’t imagine working with anybody else. We have an amazing synergy, we’re both forward thinkers, we like a fast-paced environment and we like innovation. It’s been really fun.”

Ashton Valley Fresh’s Hills Harvest juices.

The core part of Ashton Valley Fresh is juicing apples for the cider industry, with Hills Cider Company one of its major partners.

Joyce says the bulk juice side of the business continues to grow between 15–30% year on year, depending on the quality of the season.

Ashton Valley Fresh also has its own line of still and sparkling juices, free from added sugars and sold in supermarkets, greengrocers and other specialty retailers.

But it’s not just fruit and juice that keeps the Ceravolos busy.

On December 8 they’ll celebrate the opening of Lot 100, a cellar door, restaurant and function space in Nairne in the Adelaide Hills.

The combined production facility and visitor experience is a collaboration between Ashton Valley Fresh and three fellow local businesses, Hills Cider Company, Adelaide Hills Distillery and Mismatch Brewing Company.

“The benefit of joining with those companies is that we’re going to have a real paddock-to-plate experience there,” Joyce says.

“People are going to be able to see apples on the trees, the distillery processing the waste product from those apples, and see Mismatch brewing beer from our strawberry juice. Essentially it will give people that immersive experience so they can understand why their food costs what it does, why they should pay a premium price and why SA is an amazing place to do those things.”

This year is momentous for another important reason, Joyce is expecting her first child in December, and the Ceravolos are also in the running for a number of SA Food Industry Awards, announced on November 23.

Joyce is nominated for the Next Generation Award and her father Tony is up for the Leader Award. Ashton Valley Fresh is also in the running for the Business Excellence Award, Innovation in Food Award and the Sustainability Award.

Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer says Joyce is a great example of an emerging leader who has strong support from her family.

“Joyce has taken on leadership positions with the Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA and has recently joined the Food SA board so not only is she experiencing leadership in the family business, she is doing so industry wide,” she says.

The Ceravolo family in their Ashton orchard. Photo by Tricia Watkinson.

Catherine says strong leadership is critical for business and the state’s economy.

“The SA food and beverage industry is largely made up of privately, often family owned businesses so it is critical to have strong leadership from within these businesses to in turn support business and the state’s economy to grow,” she says.

Regardless of the outcome of the awards night, Joyce is confident about her place in the state’s food industry, and the prosperity of the sector as a whole.

“This can be an unpopular opinion, but I think the food industry is without a doubt the sexiest industry in SA,” she says.

“Food is one of the most fast-paced, forward thinking industries … a lot of people talk about defence and how innovative that is, but food is 10 times more innovative from where I sit.

“There are so many jobs for a wide range of people. There is room for those who like science, technology, hands-on production roles, and we need people who can work with computers and design programs to make our businesses more efficient.

“We want to make sure we keep attracting creative and committed young people. If you lack that commitment and passion, this isn’t the industry for you because you’re feeding people, you’re giving people what they put into their bodies, which is a huge responsibility.

“I’m very passionate about this subject in case you can’t tell!”

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