2023 is the year Vineyard 28 turns 25. It’s quite a milestone and one we feel is worthy of celebration. This year also happens to be our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
How did we get to 25 years?
It all started 34 years ago in Melbourne; the Kiwi girl met the West Aussie boy whilst working for the same company. There was a spark, a date and as it is often said, the rest is history.
We quickly discovered we both had a shared interest in travel and wine. Whilst living in Melbourne, you’d find us ‘up country’ chasing down some obscure winery or helping out our friends in their wineries. The search for different varieties and wine styles began all the way back then.
Travel was a big thing, and it was Mark’s dream to traverse Africa. So, in 1991 we quit our jobs and took off for the UK, embarking on an overland trip from Morocco, through Algeria, across the Sahara down into West Africa. Have to say there wasn’t much wine on that trip – mostly beer. 1992 was spent living and working in the UK and traveling as much as possible.
Upon returning to Australia in 1993, we announced we were getting married. A huge wedding party was thrown for all the friends and family back at ‘359’ -the Cumbers family home in Australind – over the Australia Day Long weekend. Wine was of course a feature of this event, a fine selection from Killerby’s and the Moss Brothers.
Settling back into working life in Melbourne a house was bought, our first child Bailey was born, and we still spent most weekends chasing wine. All through that time was the phrase “one day we’ll start our own vineyard”. This was the beginning of our dream.
In early 1997 city life and raising a child with no family support was fast losing its appeal, so we decided to move back West to where Mark’s family was. Mark would get a job, we’d buy some land, hopefully with a house on it, and we’d start our own vineyard. It was meant to be, as Mark had a job offer quickly, the house we owned sold within 2 weeks, and within a couple of months we found ourselves living temporarily in Mandurah looking for the dream property.
One should point out at this stage – we didn’t actually know that much about growing grapes or winemaking – we were just really good at sampling the final product.
270 Bagieau Road
Bagieau Road which became Vineyard 28 was found by accident one weekend, on the way down to visit the family in Australind. Back then there was a house, some paddocks, a few trees and horses roaming. A second visit was organised a few weeks later and soil samples were be taken to see if it was even remotely possible to grow grapes there. Everything lined up, and the position close to the highway was considered ideal, so bargaining hard, they took possession and moved in on Boxing Day, December 1997.
The Dream Begins
In Spring 1998 the first vines were planted at Vineyard 28. It started out with a small trial block just to get the hang of growing these things. Then each year it just kept expanding. Initially with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and Nebbiolo blocks. We realised very early on that we needed a point of difference, and Nebbiolo provided that opportunity, thus the decision to travel the Italian path. With industry assistance we planted the first Arneis vines and then a few years later Dolcetto.
The cellar door has been in operation for 18 years this year and it has gone through many changes. Starting out just doing tastings, to now focusing on providing the ‘28’ Wine and Grazing Experience as well as tours. During that time the family grew up and Jasper the red cloud kelpie grew older too.
A few of our major milestones over the years include opening the Cellar Door in 2005, winning our first ever Gold medal in 2011 for the 2011 Arneis at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. This was also the same year Mark took on the responsibility of making all our wines. A few years later in 2014 we leased Wildwater Vineyard and starting growing Pignoletto, Dolcetto, Barbera and Montepulciano up there. We were very proud in 2018 to receive a trophy for Best Red Italian Variety for the 2018 Dolcetto at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. Then again in 2022 we were overjoyed with receiving the trophy for Best Geographe White Wine at the 2022 WA Alternative Varieties Wine Show for our Fiano.
There is always something exciting and new to explore in the wine industry. Pippa is currently studying her Diploma of Digital Technology(Wine) to better understand how to use IoT (Internet of things) in the vineyard. Mark is constantly looking for the next variety to pioneer and ways to keep raising the bar on the wines he’s already producing.
Each year the seasons are different and sometimes they bring us new challenges and adventures.
Over the next 12 months our emphasis is moving towards providing more wine experiences and events for our Cellar Club members. The cellar door itself will slowly move towards being open by appointment and bookings only.
We look forward to sharing our next adventures in wine with you all!