Wines, labradors and welcoming hosts; Deepa Gopinath discovers Yarrawa Estate Vineyard in the Kangaroo Valley, NSW
Tucked between the escarpments of Upper Kangaroo Valley like a jewel in a velvet glove, is Yarrawa Estate Vineyard. The only winery in Kangaroo Valley proper, Yarrawa, or ‘windy place’, is named after a nearby state forest and is perched in a beautiful location on Scotts road.
As we drove uphill along the sun-dappled and winding road, the house came into breathtaking view through the trees. After a boisterous welcome by Muscat, the resident Labrador who seemed to specialise in vigorous tail-wagging and enthusiastic licking, we entered the cellar door.
We were greeted warmly by owners Mark and Sue Foster, who welcomed us into their home like old friends. Over the next half an hour or so, we made our way through whites like a Chambourcin, Verdelho and Semillion, followed by some robust reds such as a Cabernet Savignon and Cabernet Merlot and an elegant rose aptly named Jasmine Grace . Finally, we were offered a delicious walnut wine and a punchy Limoncello to finish. The wines were complemented by a delicious cheese plate with charming additions such as marinated baby figs and estate-grown walnuts.Our hosts provided interesting insights into their business and their backgrounds while we sipped. After a 26 year career in the insurance industry, Mark Foster became disconcerted with the instability in this field. A life in the country beckoned, so together with his wife Sue (a special education teacher in her previous life), he established Yarrawa Estate in 1998.
Yarrawa estate is, of course, a family business. Their family is showcased in their produce, with three of their wines being named after very lucky grandchildren! Friends are also considered family, and frequently help out in picking season in exchange for a lavish lunch and bottles of wine. We also learnt that a local artist creates the charming and quirky artwork on the labels of many of the bottles.
Keeping it local has paid off for this business. Over the years the Fosters’ efforts have been rewarded with silver and gold medals in the South Coast Wine Shows, as well as a place in acclaimed chef Luke Mangan’s cookbook. As well known as they are for their wines, little green globes of goodness are not the only things that are grown on the property. The property enjoys highly fertile volcanic and alluvial soils, making it not only the perfect environment for viticulture, but for other produce as well such as citrus, apples, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, Japanese raisins, avocados and vegetables.
Once we had worked our way through the collection of wines and picked out a few to purchase, we decided to take up the Fosters’ invitation to explore the vineyards. The house enjoys stunning views of Kangaroo Valley and the immaculate back garden sweeps down towards the dam and vineyards beyond.True to our newlywed status, my husband and I spent a ridiculous amount of time meandering between the irresistibly romantic rows of vines and taking photos of each other in this lovely setting.Meanwhile, our big city lungs were relishing this unexpected dose of impossibly fresh, dewy air. Once we had run out of vineyard-friendly poses (and SD card memory), we lazily made our way back towards the house. On our travels, we encountered a couple of very handsome goats who obviously help to keep some of the grass short. They eyed us suspiciously as we edged past but turned out to be just friendly and curious ruminants.
If aimless wandering is not your thing, the Fosters do conduct tours of Yarrawa estate. To organise tours or wine tasting appointments, contact Yarrawa Estate Vineyard on (02) 4465 1165 or visit www.yarrawaestate.com