Dr Kate Woods of Manjimup Veterinary Clinic in WA is robust, independent and of strong character—just like the wine she makes.
“My husband and I were keen to get away from Perth and raise our kids in the country. We both have a decent love of wine so it seemed fairly logical to buy a vineyard. We were imagining a small place that would produce wine for family and friends.
“It didn’t turn out that way. We ended up buying a 50-acre property with 23 acres under vines. It was an established vineyard with a pretty decent name that had been run down. We had no background in wine-making—or any kind of farming—but threw ourselves into it.
“My dad is an amateur winemaker so I picked his brains. We also leant on our neighbours who were in the same position as us 15 years ago. I watched many YouTube videos, did a lot of reading and learnt by trial and error.
“Unfortunately, the day our property settled was the same day as the biggest local bushfires in history. The fire came within 10 kilometres of our vineyard and we lost the whole crop to smoke taint. Not a great start to our new venture.
“I was still working part-time as a vet and my husband is a FIFO [fly-in fly-out] worker so we put the money we earned back into the vineyard. Twelve months later, it all came down to a couple of days of harvesting.
“We sold most of the grapes and made a small amount of wine. The wine was delivered nine months later and needed to be left for a week before opening. We lasted about an hour. I’ll never forget drinking that first glass of our own wine.
“These days we sell 50 tonnes of grapes and turn five tonnes into wine that we market under the 10 Chains label. We have a pretty little cellar door that looks out on a karri forest but we mainly distribute to bottle shops, restaurants and a couple of hotels in our area. Our wine is also available online at our website.
“I’m still working part-time as a vet but when the kids are at school and my husband is at work, I love being out in the vineyard with my dogs. It’s so peaceful. A walk among the vines is a great way to unwind.
“It’s very satisfying to produce something you’re happy to present to people. I’ve never been a particularly good salesperson but people buy our wine and then come back for more.
“It’s not a necessity; they just like it and are happy to purchase it again and again. That’s a really nice aspect of wine-making.”
You can purchase Kate’s selection of wines at tenchains.com.au