Hopefully “Conversations” will not just be wine stories all the time, so here is a story that ends up in wine but certainly did not start that way.
I was born to very constructive, attention to detail, positive parents who worked extremely hard long hours at what they did so well.
My father was a country baker and my mother a country hospital nurse, who married in 1932.
I came along in 1933, just as they were moving from country bakery to country bakery around South Australia with a view of one day having their own bakery wherever that may be. Two years here; three years there; until in 1938 they bought a bakery at Jamestown in the mid-north of South Australia.
I was about six at the time and as happens in business families (and others), children got chores to do, and slowly more were in the bakehouse itself or with its surrounds.
Ken (his name was Kinloch) was an incredibly creative baker who believed in excellence; satisfying customers; and “cleanliness be Godliness” not next to Godliness.
Phyl, my mother equally so, partly because of her nursing training and her empathy for customers’ needs. All this with a “business head” well and truly in practice.
Over the years of chores in the bakery and the tea rooms behind the counter, the lessons of life were taught. I loved the bakery in particular, whether in winter warm or summer heat.
Being a country baker Ken had to be good at everything. Pastry making, pies and pasties, buns, small cakes, long cakes, bread, rolls, birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and you name it!
Fortunately he was superb in all these things, even to inventing “Newcera” a new style bread that lasted three-five days longer and made magic toast (perhaps this is where my own creative attitude to wine styles comes from).
So what has all this to do with young Jim ending up a star winemaker?
Think about it for a second or two.
What is it that is in the bakery, in the tea rooms, and in winemaking? In the literary world it is: “I have five stalwart serving men of what and how and when and where and why.”
In the bakery it is: “Five stalwart serving men of tastes and smells; colours and textures, and flavours.” Just think how differently your life would be without these!
So now there is the connection, for all of the last mentioned are also the “stalwart serving men” of wine.
Another two could be added though, and they are: excellence and consistency.
So then with Ken departing this life when I was twenty-six, the legacy he left has come to be my guiding light throughout my winemaking. Together with Phyl’s empathy toward customers, and feet on the ground business life, I have indeed had great opportunity to do well.