SIXTEEN years ago, working out of a bedroom in his mum's Sydney home, Oscar Martin was the co-founder of a multimillion-dollar youth-focused media brand and today he's a Hunter Valley vigneron with exciting plans.
Last August, the 39-year-old bought the 59-hectare Krinklewood property in Wollombi Road, Broke, which for 30 years Sydney building company proprietor Rod Windrim and his family madea wellspring of biodynamic winegrowing.
With its 19-hectares of eco-friendly vineyard shunning pesticides, herbicides and chemicals, luxurious colonial homestead, tennis court, saltwater pool, cabana, limousin cattle run, vegetable gardens and orchard, Krinklewood was on the market for three years before being sold by Jurd's Real Estate, Cessnock.
Oscar tells me he is committed to maintaining Krinklewood's biodynamic winemaking and has plans to introduce digital marketing and to add a mineral bathhouse, an organic food market, a performance stage for the arts and an education centre for biodynamic/organic farming and winemaking.
In conjunction with visionary Sydney architect Peter Stutchbury, Oscar also has a development application before Singleton Council for 17 tourist accommodation cabins using Stutchbury's prefabricated sustainable home dimX design.
dimX says the major cross-laminated timber components of the houses are pre-crafted at an Australian plantation and cut with millimetre precision before being delivered on-site and erected over a six-week period.
"Once actioned, Krinklewood will be an internationally acclaimed destination," Oscar said.
Basing themselves in a bedroom and a basement of their parents' Sydney homes, Oscar and his Universal McCann advertising agency workmate Chris Wirasinha in 2005 founded the pop culture website Pedestrian.TV targeting an audience of 16 to 35 year-olds - building it to claim more than 200,000 subscribers on its EDM and social channels.
In 2018 the pair sold Pedestrian.TV to the Nine media group for a reported price of $49 million and Oscar now proudly gives "vigneron" as his occupation.
He had youthful links with the Upper Hunter Valley from a small farm his family owned for six years at Wollombi. He made his first visit to Broke on a wine tasting trip to Krinklewood and thereafter it was his favourite place in the Hunter.
Rod Windrim and his wife and Suzanne got into Hunter winemaking in 1979 when they bought land in Palmers Lane, Pokolbin, and planted a small vineyard they called Krinklewood.
They sold it in 1989 and reassigned the name after buying the larger Wollombi Road property.
There they planted a conventional vineyard but in 2002 began implementing biodynamic practices after being impressed by the writings of Austrian scientist and philosopher and founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture Rudolph Steiner.
Over the past 19 years, Rod and son Peter established themselves as Australian biodynamic farming trail-blazers and respected educators.
A major key to Krinklewood's biodynamic success has been Preparation 500, a spray Rod developed to aid his vines' photosynthesis and uptake of minerals and trace elements without chemicals or herbicides.
Making Preparation 500 begins each autumn with digging a 400 millimetre trench, getting scores of cow horns, filling them with poo from cattle, chickens, sheep, ducks, geese and pigs, and burying them in a soil and straw mixture.
In spring, the horns are dug up and the contents, by this time a sweet-smelling compost, is converted into Preparation 500 liquid. This is sprayed around vine roots twice during spring and twice during autumn at a "most powerful time" on days when the moon is in opposition to Saturn. Preparation 500 is used in conjunction with Preparation 501, a product made from ground quartz crystals packed into cow horns and buried over summer.
WINES AID WOMBATS
THREE wines whose sales benefit endangered wombats have won gold medals in the 2021 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles wine judging in Luxembourg.
The wines are the Little Giant 2018 Single Vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet, Little Giant 2020 Little Batch Barossa Shiraz Mataro and the Little Giant 2019 Single Vineyard Barossa ShirazfromFourth Wave Wine group based at Bradford Close, Kotara, and headed by Merewether couple Frances and Nicholas Crampton.
From the sales of the Little Giant brand wines, which carry an image of the small, stocky southern hairy-nose wombat, Fourth Wave supports WIRES, the Wildlife, Information, Rescue and Education Service.
Fourth Wave general manager Ross Marshall said the funding from Little Giant sales helped more than 1100 wombats that had suffered injuries from bushfires, vehicles and the commonly occurring slow and painful, death-dealing skin infection, mange.
Little Giant wines are priced $22 to $32 in big liquor retailers nationally.
Fourth Wave's Tread Softly brand takes a different environmental path, helping plant 52,123 trees and shrubs.
THE Krinklewood 2018 Basket Press Chardonnay is from Broke grapes and is bright straw, honeysuckle-scented and with elegant white peach front-palate flavour. The middle shows pear, lemon curd, mineral and buttery oak and a slatey acid finish. It is at the 712 Wollombi Rd, Broke, cellar door, on krinklewood.com and some bottle shops.
DRINK WITH: crab souffle.
AGEING: seven years.
RATING: 5 stars (out of 6)
WILDLY JUICY RED BLEND
THIS Krinklewood 2019 Wild Red comes from shiraz and tempranillo grapes from McLaren Vale and Broke-Fordwich and has 13.7% alcohol and bright crimson hues. The front palate shows juicy blackberry flavour, the middle palate introduces Maraschino cherry, rhubarb, spice and cedary oak and minty tannins come through at the finish
DRINK WITH: tandoori lamb kebabs.
AGEING: five years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
ROSÉ WITH REFRESHMENT
THIS refreshing Krinklewood 2021 Francesca Roséis made from organic vineyard merlot and mourvedre grapes from McLaren Vale. With 12.5% alcohol, it's pale fairy floss pink and lollypop-scented. The front palate displays crisp strawberry flavour, the middle palate has pomegranate, apple peel and sherbet characters and a flinty acid finish.
DRINK WITH: antipasto.
AGEING: drink now.
RATING: 4 stars
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