Winery move bears fruit at Firescreek
IT'S been almost two years since Nadia and Francis O'Connell took the gamble of their lives, throwing in their jobs and buying Firescreek Fruit Winery at Holgate.
The area wasn't new to Nadia, who attended Gosford Primary and Henry Kendall High, but the couple had been overseas in Indonesia and Singapore for six years and she admits a PhD in marketing and working on the oil rigs are not jobs which make a natural leap to winegrowing.
A bronze medal for their first Firescreek wine (pear and feajoa) at the Perth Royal Show is just the start, and proof to the couple it was a leap worth taking.
They encourage everyone to "come and investigate” what they've been up to, with complimentary taste-testing from 10.30am-4.30pm Wednesday to Sunday.
They also run a midweek taste and talk for groups at just $5 per head, during which you can enjoy a wine, learn how it was made, and perhaps take a wander through the beautiful gardens.
It's a perfect outing out for Seniors clubs and other community groups.
"The previous owners were retiring and wanted to find someone who was passionate about carrying on what they had done,” Nadia said.
"I wake up every morning and think 'I'm so lucky to be here'.”
After six weeks of hands-on training, Nadia, Francis and the kids - Lilliana, Daniel and baby Malita - were on their own.
With a range of ingredients including fig, plum, elderberry, passionfruit, lime, pear, violets, rose petal, feajoa, honey and more, there is always something new and exciting to try. They grow as much as possible of their own product, and have recently ventured into beekeeping.
It takes 12-18 months for each wine to mature - "the wine decides when it's ready”.
As one batch develops, it's on to creating the next blend, with the flavours continually changing with the seasons, rather than a grape winery's intensive period of grow, pick, crush.
"We have 2.5 acres here and it's lovely to see the seasons rolling through and the different fruits growing and flowers blooming,” Nadia said.
Firescreek has become the true definition of a family business, with everyone joining in the zesting and juicing of 200kgs of oranges in three days for the upcoming orange wine.
The petals for two of Nadia's favourites, the rose petal and violet wines, are picked with her children.
"It's just such a lovely process,” she said.
As winter sets in, fig, date and honey wine, or chilli and orange are perfect to fend off the cold. Wines range from dry to sweet, all accentuating the fruit's natural flavours.
To find out more, go to www.firescreek.com.au or call 0243650768.