Holidaying in the Alpine Wine country of North Eastern Victoria, I was inspired by the courage, determination and talents of wine makers Bruce and Annie Holm who own and operate Ringer Reef a small boutique Winery.
It is located six kilometres from Bright on the Great Alpine Road at Porepunkah in Victoria.
As I turned off the main road and saw the Ringer Reef sign I felt pangs of excitement and anticipation. The contemporary rustic simplicity of the sign sat comfortably against a backdrop of gums and a foreground of stones.
Later I discovered that the sign and signature labels had been designed and crafted in Adelaide, South Australia.
Vineyards – I have always loved the order of the planting, the promise of the grapes and the shape and form of the vines.
This vineyard was beautifully positioned nestled in a landscape of undulating hills and exposed to breathtaking views.
In addition “the property is well suited to producing quality grapes thanks to deep well-drained soils, an elevation between 290 and 350 metres. This because it receives plenty of rainfall meaning that irrigation isn’t necessary.” [Produce to Platter]
Sitting relaxed and knitting under the protection of a white umbrella was Lois Bucham, Annie’s mother. She was very welcoming and directed us to the cellar door entrance.
Stepping into the barrel room of this modern winery I was warmly greeting by a smiling Annie.
When she unfolded her story I fell totally under her spell.
Country charm and a resilient and infectious personality captured my curiosity and I longed to know more.
I sought to uncover the reasons for Annie and Bruce choosing the location for Ringer Reef Winery. I also wanted to extract highlights and special moments that Bruce and Annie had experienced during the time of establishing their Winery.
It was 1996 I discovers when they & were looking for a place where they could realize their dream of building a beautiful home and developing a vineyard of their own.
It was love at first sight for Bruce when he saw the striking view and felt a sense of tranquillity wash over him.
Annie’s first reaction was not ‘love,’ in fact she thought it would be a nightmare as all she could see were the endless blackberries and I am sure the incessant toil that lay ahead for them both.
Bruce however had a clear vision and so they spent two years travelling down on weekends to clear the block and stay in the little tin shack at the top of the hill.
He was like a Boy Scout and loved coming to work the land. Annie however eventually had enough of staying in the decrepit dirt floor shack, voicing her desire for a real home. It was time to build a and make the move permanent.
Opening their Cellar Door was a very significant point for them both.
They originally planted only Merlot back in 1998, with the intention to sell bulk fruit to the buyers. Due to a market collapse, they were encouraged by their children to start their own wine label.
In 2006 Bruce, then in his 44th vintage of wine making [he had made wine for many large companies over the years of his career], decided to open the Cellar Door to the public and they have never looked back.
In 2015 the vineyard produced 35 tone of fruit from the 9 different varietals planted, their largest harvest to date.
All fruit is handpicked by Annie and Bruce, and their dear friends Rita and Bent, who travel each year from Denmark to help with vintage.
This year was Rita and Bent’s fifth year of picking. I am sure they have developed a very special relationship that has grown from working together with their hands and their hearts.
Bruce has loved and appreciated seeing the vineyard develop and has been admired and respected for the quality of fruit he is producing and Annie has enjoyed seeing visitors come back year after year and share in their slice of heaven.
I was determined to isolate the qualities that have made Bruce, Annie and the Winery unique.
Bruce and Annie have a reputation for being real ‘salt of the earth’ kind of people. It was very obvious to me that they were down to earth, humble, hardworking, compassionate and generous.
They loved sharing their dream with visitors. Today they continue to be constantly overwhelmed at the number of people who come back year after year to visit. They have watched families grow over the years and Annie’s remarkable knack for remembering so many people has enhanced these interactions.
Annie’s natural warmth and welcoming nature made me feel excited and aware of being in the presence of a highly principled woman of the earth.
Coupled with working in the Cellar Door at the winery and in the vineyard with Bruce, Annie spends hours in her kitchen preparing delicious fresh bread and food to serve on the produce platters and with tastings.
Because she cares about providing that extra touch for the visitors, people love coming back.
I found there was something very distinctive to savour, when I ate freshly baked home-made bread that lingered on the senses especially when it was paired with the wine tastings from Ringer Reef.
Bruce is always available to anyone genuinely interested in the winemaking process. He has a wealth of knowledge to share.
He is very particular about his craft. As a result he creates fine quality wine at an affordable price.
He takes pride in every aspect of the wine process. His care of the vineyard is evident in his meticulous attention to detail every day.
This commitment ensures he yields the best product he can from grapes grown in his own vineyard.
Annie and Bruce were very passionate about what they do. This passion was infectious and I shared in their joy. They genuinely care about people and this quality is always uplifting to be around.
They are also ardent about supporting the local community and businesses by looking after wholesale customers and hand delivering wines where and when they can.
All the wines are made onsite from start to finish, from grapes grown onsite with the exception of the Botrytis Semillon which comes from just up the road.
Ringer Reef is open seven days a week from 12-5pm (excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day) for wine tastings, sales, produce platters and functions. Wines can also be purchased Online and shipped Australia wide.
Sampling wines at Ringer Reef was a taste sensation.
The Moscato Giallo 2014 was delicate and sweet with a light effervescent lift that enhanced the muscat fragrance.
The palate was sweet and fruity yet finished clean and fresh. I day dreamed about sharing a bottle with family and friends at brunch, with dessert or as an aperitif.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Chardonnay 2013 it was rich, complex and the integrated oak was enriched by the creamy lees and balanced with soft acid.
It was the first Chardonnay I have ever really enjoyed.
Merlot is one of my favourite wines and I loved the Merlot 2012.
The wine was matured in 300 litre French oak barrels for two years before bottling in September 2014.
With 40% new oak the aroma and flavours were rich chocolate and vanilla with firm grape tannins.
My taste buds are eager to sample a bottle of this smooth delightful silky wine again in the near future.
Ringer Reef Winery was unique because the wine was excellent and affordable.
The location was magic and the service very attentive. I relished and appreciated every moment of my experience and have no doubt I am one of many who have responded in the same manner.
Cheers to Bruce and Annie Holm of Ringer Reef Winery.
Rose Niland, Special Features NSW, 2015
6835 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah 3740, nearby to Bright, Victoria
Bruce Holm – Winemaker
Annette Holm – Cellar door & Sales
Kylie Bertuch – Marketing & Sales
Phone: (03) 5756 2805
Email: [email protected]
Images supplied: Thanks to Rose Niland and Ringer Reef Winery