Nick Brookes and I met in kindergarten when we were three. We have been friends ever since. In 2005, at a dark moment in the vineyard’s history, Nick came to the rescue; he is now my business partner, he handles the UK distribution and it was at his urging that the winery was built. Every year he comes over from London on the pretext of helping with the vintage but actually because he’s a hopeless petrol-head and it gives him the chance to take in the Australian F1 Grand Prix.
Our neighbour Grant McRostie has been an invaluable friend and advisor from the planting of the first vines to the completion of the winery. Now a beef farmer with 160 head of cattle in the Jamieson Valley, Grant trained originally as a fitter and turner, and for many years was in charge of ski-lift maintenance on Mt Buller. He can turn his hand to anything: in addition to designing and building the winery lift, the sorting table and the equipment for handling the picking bins, and completely overhauling every other piece of machinery in the winery, Grant is the inventor of a high-lift water pump powered entirely by the energy of the flowing river.
Karl Riedel, another friend and neighbour is an agronomist who has worked for many years with EE Muir and Sons. On matters of soil management, plant nutrition and the control of diseases, Karl’s disinterested and rigorously scientific advice has made it possible to convert what at first sight looked like an unpromising, tussocky swamp into a flourishing vineyard.
The late Ian Ridley, for whom the ’08 Reserve was named, was Janene’s father. A six time premiership player with the Melbourne Demons in their glory years when they won five flags in six seasons, Ian was only five foot seven, but he was fearless, quick thinking and a great team player. When his playing career ended he went on to serve the club he loved as Coach, President and in just about every administrative position in between. His courage, integrity and extraordinary personal warmth endeared him to all who knew him. He is greatly missed.
tank girl ONE
Janene is John’s wife. She has experienced all the ups and down of running a vineyard and making wine and refers to her role in the venture as “general dog’s body and Janene from accounts”. Now retired, Janene helps with jobs in the vineyard and winery and is affectionately known as ‘Tank Girl One’.
tank girl two
After a career in advertising and marketing Sarah saw the light and, together with her husband Gerard, headed for the hills, specifically Tolmie, from where they now run their own design and marketing company, Gravity Design. They met John and Janene at a local winemaker’s meeting and, after a bottle or two, were invited to assist with marketing at Mt Terrible. Since then both Sarah and Gerard have become progressively more in involved in all aspect s of the business and Sarah is about to embark on a winemaking qualification.