nothing gold can stay

by crushed & stirred

Gold was the first, remarkable impression that Margaret River made on me. The vineyard canopies were deep green in the last flush of summer and the land gold. After a season of blistering, relentless sun and heat, the cold seemed to come out of nowhere and with the rains, all the gold went to green. Shimmering Margaret River now resembles the English countryside, if it were perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean. “Nothing gold can stay.”


We’ve weathered some weather by now. I’ve never seen rain fall so hard and so long. In preparation for the first storm, we battened down the hatches and stripped away all remnants of vintage. Overnight, the water restored our dried up summer pond to the flowing Wilyabrup Creek that greeted me on arrival.


On the subject of arrival: departure. After our last round of bottling at Juniper, I managed to eke out a couple extra weeks of cellar work – mostly pressure washing and racking-and-returning reds that had finished malolactic fermentation. With those over and done with, the barrel room’s heating – cranked up to keep finishing ferments ticking – was turned off and we were out of warm places to hide. Nights we huddled round our fireplaces to keep warm. What central heating? What insulation? This is Australia, where outside is king and inside is  a place with a roof. 

Imagethe green and the gold

After a period of prolonged denial, the inevitable has happened. With a few hours to spare, I sold my car, packed my things, arranged my travel, drank a lot of wine, and got really sad about leaving my new, beloved home.

Imagethe farewell chardonnay tasting



the farewell shiraz tasting 

Things I learned here:

-how to drive dirt roads

-how not to drive dirts roads

-how to dodge kangaroos

-what it feels like to hit a roo

-what decaying roo smells like

-what lots of decaying things smell like

-how to feel at home in a cellar, at last

-how the heart changes

Some of the things on this list might seem to undermine my love of this place and the things in it. It’s true, I didn’t enjoy chasing rodents and bugs from my house (mostly unsuccessfully). But there’s just no hiding in Western Australia – not from the sun, the animals, the bugs, the weather. The outsides busts its way in, if you’re a raggedy cellar hand living on a farm by the sea in a falling down house full of people and food and sometimes dogs. And if you’re a raggedy cellar hand living on a farm by the sea in a falling down house full of people and food and sometimes dogs, you can get hot or cranky or cold or crowded or frustrated, but you’re happy. Frightfully, frightfully happy.

Now I do what I do and hit the road. I’m in Victoria now, bound for Tasmania and New South Wales, where I plan to drive and taste my way through beautiful, weird Australia with my little self and a rotating cast of characters. 

And then, when you least expected it, I return to Sonoma, where Donelan Wines awaits me once more. That’s right, my fifth vintage will be on the stomping grounds of my first. And nothing sounds as crazy to me as “my fifth vintage.”